"I find that hard to believe in this sense," Caplan noted. "It's difficult to find doctors who will treat you post-transplant if they weren't involved in the transplant." Given the ethical state of the organ trade, Transplant Tourism often involves unhealthy organs and poor surgical procedures. And some doctors won't treat patients like De Leon for ethical reasons.
Stanford University professor Bill Hurlbut, a member of the White House bioethics advisory council, noted that doctors should "not be encouraging at any level" the trade of organs from dubious sources. He fears "the commodification of human body parts."
When I talked to De Leon last year, he told me that if I needed a healthy liver, "Let's see how fast you're in line."
That's not a standard. Maybe during a fire, a man might panic and claw his way past children to get to an exit. But who wants to encourage such behavior?
As Caplan noted, he can conceive of the scenario in which Transplant Tourism might work for both donor and recipient -- but by and large, it is immoral.
Every year more than 6,500 people die in America waiting for transplants. Ling closes by noting, "If we all signed up to become organ donors, no one would die waiting for an organ." Organ donations do save lives.
But just as it is wrong for Americans to die waiting for organs, it also is wrong for prisoners to die because an American needs a liver, or for a child to die because his mother sold her kidney. And it is beyond reason that in a country that passes numerous regulations on the feeding and care of livestock, people don't want to judge those who, like vampires, troll for organs in the Third World.
And if the donors complain, we'll just sneer and say: They got what they deserved.