Why assume altruism is the important part of organ transplants?

If you start out with an incorrect assumption then all that follows is going to be in error. As with The Guardian here on the subject of organ transplants:

The altruistic character of organ donation is what makes it valuable – and also what makes it fragile. It is a deeply personal gift, which cannot be compelled.

Why must, or even should, we assume that altruism is the important thing here? It’s entirely true that the basic British assumption is that it is. That money should never sully the transfer of body parts. Which is why people die on dialysis waiting for a kidney, the IVF services float on rivers of Danish sperm. Because it is not just assumed but encoded into law that no one may receive payment for the provision of organs or bodily fluids, gametes and the rest.

It is possible to, as we do, take a different view. To be rather more utilitarian. We wish to save lives - possibly create them - as efficiently as we can. As always, still subject to that do no third party harm caveat. So, why not pay for organs. Iran does, it being the only place that does for kidneys. Iran is also, and not by coincidence, the only place where people do not die upon dialysis waiting for one. The US offers good money for eggs for IVF, they not having as a result a shortage of eggs for IVF.

Incentives do work, that most basic lesson of economics.

The real problems and difficulties are not in the regulations. Individuals and their families must be inspired with a vision of what organ donation can do: it is a way to make both life and death more valuable. Transmitting this vision is a process that takes time and demands commitment and understanding from the frontline staff of the NHS. The change in the law is welcome, but it should not be taken as a substitute for the real work that remains to be done.

Rather than working with the humanity we’ve got The Guardian would rather change the humanity. That’s the New Soviet Man delusion and as with the earlier version people die while we wait for the improved version to turn up.

Sure, gain what we can from altruism but if the supply needs topping up with market incentives then why not? Aren’t we actually trying to save and create lives here? Or is moral stance - posturing - more important?

And do note the moral impertinence here. Those defining the current law are imposing their moral visions on those who get to die of them. Well done, most ethical.