As I write this piece, I am reminded of an old Rod Serling Night Gallery episode.
Joan Crawford was this seriously wealthy and very nasty blind woman who only wanted to see for a brief amount of time her doctor tells her such a surgery would afford her. Her lackey Barry Sullivan was dispatched to find an eye donor. He finds one in the Tom Bosley, an obviously developmentally disabled man who is playing on the swings at a children’s playground. He is childlike. He is also pathetic and broke and destitute. He sells his eyes for an obscenely paltry sum to this greedy woman who could have more than afforded to give him enough money to live his life out with some mild sense of dignity. Joan gets her surgery and just as they remove her bandages and she begins to See, there is a blackout in the city. A total and complete blackout. Since her seeing moments are numbered, it does not appear that Joan will ever See. I can’t recall for sure, but I think she ended up going through her penthouse window.
Screw Joan. I’m thinking of Poor Tom Bosley. He was so desperate that he sold his sight so that he might go on a little bit longer. He needed the money.
Well hey, listen, your government wants to you to have some money too. You know, The American Dream and all.
Okay, let’s build the scenario for you. It is starting to sound like the Typical American scenario actually.
You lost your job.
Capital One just told you that your interest rate on existing balances is now officially 30%. Okay, make that 29.890 percent.
You have no health insurance and some guy from India keeps calling your phone number telling you that you had better pay those doctor’s bills.
You sold pretty much everything you have that is worth anything, including your grandmother’s jewelry that had been in the family for two centuries. The power company is threatening to turn off your heat and electricity and it’s kind of cold out there. Besides, if the water pipes in your home burst you are truly out of luck because you had to cancel the homeowner’s policy you couldn’t afford any longer. You no longer have cable and can find a test pattern on your TV a minimum of 30 times.
Surely there must be something you can do to earn money.
Why yes there is. You can sell your kidney.
Now don’t get all squeamish. You can live with only one, just so long as nothing goes wrong with it–but, hey, life’s a gamble, right? And besides, money is money!
Currently, this trivial procedure is considered illegal, punishable by five years in prison. What a waste! There’s money in those kidneys, gang, and if Americans who aren’t friends or relatives of Congress or the White House lack one thing right now, it’s money.
Your government might just help to eliminate that archaic law and make the sale of your “extra” kidney possible for you. Aren’t they wonderful people? Always looking out for you.
A Doctor named Satel wants to help make this happen and is teaming up with Senators Arlen Specter, Bob Casey and Tom Harkin, three upstanding citizens who want to help you out. This is a sure sign that the economy has turned the corner, don’t you think?
Satel, who received a donated kidney from a friend in 2006, has become a passionate and highly sensible advocate for reforming the nation’s organ donor system (despite occupying an office down the hall from Newt Gingrich and Lynne Cheney). She consulted on a draft bill sponsored by Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter that would be a groundbreaking first step toward decriminalizing the compensation of kidney donors.
The bill, co-sponsored by fellow Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey and Iowa’s Tom Harkin, would allow the government to offer kidney donors a variety of in-kind benefits, such as free health and life insurance policies, a tax credit, or a generous contribution to a charity of their choice. Other proposals have suggested allowing for contributions to a donor’s 401(k) plan. “Opponents are concerned about the appropriateness of paying cash for organs. I don’t necessarily agree,” Satel said, “but we do think our proposal addresses those concerns and will help reduce the organ shortage in this country, which is my main concern, without exploiting anyone.”
Golly, an office down the hall from a Cheney and a Gingrich. How proud they must both be. That way if either one of them ever needs a kidney, they can grab one from some poor bastard who is going broke. You gotta love the outrageously rich. Always looking to perpetuate themselves and kill off everybody else.
Really, it’s a good thing Dr. Satel thinks that cash should be an option. Most Americans no longer have 401Ks. Those accounts belong to Goldman Sachs now. And a tax credit on an already zeroed-out adjustable gross income isn’t exactly very helpful. As for favorite charities, well, considering how screwed you are, if you are selling your kidney, your favorite charity has got to be yourself.
Nah, encouraging desperate people to sell their kidneys: That’s not exploitation or anything is it? I need to get with the program! In some countries a poor schmuck like you could just wake up in an alley and find somebody performed surgery on you after they rendered you unconscious. And you wouldn’t get a dime! That’s why our government is so special. They want to protect you and help you out. They want to take those kidney thefts out of the back alleys and replace them with abortions in back alleys. But nevermind.
I know you are all excited about the prospects of this bill passing, knowing the government of what was once the United States of America wants you to sell your organs. After all, becoming a third world country full of so many desperate people that they would actually think of selling an organ is what you long for, isn’t it? I’ll bet Jimmy Carter, at the most depressing part of his administration, which was the full four years, would have loved to have had the opportunity to allow you all to sell a kidney.
Shortly after the article I linked to was written, good ole Dr. Satel shared with the author some emails received by readers. Now you know why I am reminded of Night Gallery.
“I live paycheck to paycheck right now and just can’t seem to get my head above water. If I could get a lump sump cash payment for an organ, I would jump at the opportunity,” wrote one man. “If I could pay off my debts and improve my quality of life dramatically as I wouldn’t be stressed 24/7 wondering how I’m going to pay this month’s rent and bills.”
“Recently we had a baby with severe complications,” wrote a young mother of two. “The reason I am telling you this story is because while this was happening, we spent everything we had in savings, pulled money from retirement, etc, to allow me to pay for daycare so I could spent time in the hospital. I would SERIOUSLY consider donating to someone who may die without it if it meant it helped save them and helped my situation also.”
Yes, we have certainly turned the corner….Now the very wealthy will be able to jump to the top of the list and get that kidney.
Now, I want to go on record that I am listed on my driver’s license as a donor. But this, I am sorry to say, is way beyond troubling. It is a sign that people are so desperate they are even willing to sell their organs. It is also a sign that the very rich will have yet another way to work the system and harvest the poor and struggling for their own More Important needs. Where there is a will, there is a way.
So what’s Dr. Sally Satel, a psychiatrist, up to now? Why she’s going to help you out.
…..she is helping a friend who is researching the legality of starting a website that would connect the tens of thousands of Americans desperate for a kidney with the suddenly seemingly bottomless supply of those desperate to give one up, for the right price. “She wouldn’t be taking a cent for providing this service,” Satel said, “just providing a place for people with mutual interests to meet.”
Isn’t that special?
Well, you might ask, what do you do after you and your spouse have both sold your kidneys and you still can’t make ends meet? You won’t have any more organs to donate while still remaining alive and it’s still illegal to sell your kids. So far.
Not to worry. No, not to worry. Your government is most likely looking for a way to convert pesky common people like you into an alternate fuel source. Perhaps you could volunteer for the research program.