I recently learned that my colleague and dean Jennifer Mnookin donated a kidney to her father, Harvard law professor Bob Mnookin. My hat would be off her if I wore a hat, and I’m happy to hear that both daughter and father are fine.
This also reminded me that my longtime friend and youngest guest blogger Virginia Postrel had donated a kidney to her friend Sally Satel 15 years ago (who happened to be quoted in a post here last week). Hats off to Virginia again.
I have long thought that people should be compensated for kidney donations (and that heirs should be compensated for autopsy donations). Put a cap of $ 0 on a scarce commodity and it’s not surprising you get a deficiency – an often fatal deficiency for the kidneys. I have even argued that there should be a constitutional right arising from the right to self-defense to pay for kidneys, sections of liver and the like (see my article on Harvard Law Review 2007, Medical Self-Defense, Prohibited Experimental Therapies) and payment for organs). Whatever you think of the constitutional argument, I think the political argument in favor of a properly managed payment system is very strong.
But in the meantime, we should cherish those who donate their kidneys and celebrate the scientific and medical advances (which would have been mind-boggling if we hadn’t gotten used to them) that these surgeries generally make possible with great success and very few side effects .