Sunday, December 17, 2006

Retail organs: not a slippery slope

The transfer of organs from the weak to the strong, from the poor to the richer, is not a slippery slope. No, not at all.

Slippery implies some possibility of friction. Slope implies the possibility of balance. We need a better metaphor. How about 'obvious cliff'?

Alas, the trade continues to expand exponentially, despite my screed of last April. The Economist is the latest champion.

Gee, you'd think nobody reads this thing. The egg-donation and kidney transfer trade is big these days, much bigger than the involuntary donations of Chinese "criminals". It's a true 21st century growth industry. Niven, alas, was spot on thirty years ago. If we come up with really good anti-rejection treaments the exponential growth curve will go vertical. Eye transplants anyone? After all, one can live well with one eye.


There is a darkly millenial bright side. Sooner or later, maybe after the eye donations and the hemi-hepatectomies are booming, this trade will tip us into reexamining the duties of the strong to the weak, the rich to the poor, and the limited adaptability of the human to a logically utilitarian ethos.

I'm sure I'll have similar comments in another 6-12 months.

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