Thursday, February 26, 2009

A New Frontier in the Market for Organs, page 2

In January I wrote this post regarding the physician who wanted compensation for a kidney he had donated to the wife he was now divorcing. He wanted it seen as a marital asset, one with financial value that could be divided. My concern was that this was a new point – a new low point – in the issue of whether there should be a market for and financial compensation for donated organs.

Yesterday it was reported that the court referee ruled that the “surgeon's bid to seek $1.5 million for the kidney he donated to his estranged wife ‘not only runs afoul’ of public policy, but may expose him to criminal prosecution.”

Dr. Batista's application to put a price on the kidney violated state law, Grob held, citing Public Health Law §4307, which makes it a felony for "any person to knowingly acquire ... for valuable consideration any human organ for use in human transplantation…." (Emphasis mine)

At its core, the defendant's claim inappropriately equates human organs with commodities," Referee A. Jeffrey Grob wrote in Batista v. Batista, Jr., 201931/05. Grob noted that while the term "marital property" is "elastic and expansive ... its reach, in this Court's view, does not stretch into the ether and embrace, in contravention of this State's public policy, human tissues or organs."

So, for the moment, and in this instance, the issue has been put to rest, although the decision is grounded more specifically in law than in ethical reflection. Still, this one’s over. So, now we wait to see how this is raised next.

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