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Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Red Market

Wonder what Thomas Aquinas would say about the body parts market? (Kidney for sale by owner: human organs, transplantation, and the market, Mark J. Cherry .... p. 118, "Thomas Aquinas: The Principle of Totality and the Selling of Body Parts")

I ask because I listened to a podcast at NPR today with journalist Scott Carney about his book, The Red Market: On the Trail of the World's Organ Brokers, Bone Thieves, Blood Farmers, and Child Traffickers (thanks to a post at In Living Color).

Remember the Indian Ocean tsunami about which David Bentley Hart wrote The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami? -- here's a quote from the NPR storyy that gos with the interview ....

As part of his research, Carney visited an Indian refugee camp for survivors of 2004's massive tsunami. Today, the camp is known by the nickname Kidneyvakkam, or Kidneyville, because of how common it is for the women who live there to sell their kidneys. "The women are just lined up," Carney says. "They have their exposed midriffs and there are all these kidney extraction scars because when the tsunami happened, all these organ brokers came in and realized there were a lot of people in very desperate situations and they could turn a lot of quick cash by just convincing people to sell their kidneys."

It's when people are at their most desperate that they consider selling off body parts (as opposed to gifting body parts) and it's people with money who benefit. I think this is true not just for selling off parts, like blood or kidneys (or hair - The Gift of the Magi), but for selling sex and for "leasing" one's body as a surrogate.

You can read an except from Scott Carney's book at the NPR link. Here's just the first paragraph ....

I weigh just a little under two hundred pounds, have brown hair, blue eyes, and a full set of teeth. As far as I know, my thyroid gland pumps the right hormones into the twelve pints of blood that circulate in my arteries and veins. At six feet two inches, I have long femurs and tibias with solid connective tissue. Both of my kidneys function properly, and my heart runs at a steady clip of eighty-seven beats per minute. All in, I figure I'm worth about $250,000.


Anonymous Henry said...

This is one of the saddest posts I've ever read Crystal. I don't know if you saw the movie "Never Let Me Go" or read the book, but it seems that in the future that may not be fiction after all.

I generally focus on the problem of human trafficking, which is bad enough, but this seems even more nefarious to me because it's more subtle. Really sad Crystal.

2:40 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

It is sad and as always, the rich benefit at the expense of the poor. I still haven't read or seen Never Let Me Go - must do that.

5:17 PM  

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