The sale of kidneys

By August 5, 2011Uncategorized

To sell or not to sell … a kidney? That is the dilemma that students may need to consider if controversial plans proposed by a leading academic from Dundee University go ahead.

The news this week that Dr Sue Rabbitt Roff has recommended the sale of kidneys as a means of paying for university fees while writing in the British Medical Journal has been met with outrage.

At £28,000 the sale of a kidney is surely tempting to many, especially those from poorer backgrounds and those looking to alleviate student debt. However, when you google this story, right next to it is the tale of the 17 year old boy who sold his kidney in China to raise money for an iPad and apparently now may regret it. His mother called the police but only after the kidney was removed because her son had forgotten to mention the surgery…

As a mum, the very thought of my son – or anyone else – selling a body part to fund their higher education, never mind the latest gadget, is incomprehensible.

Mrs Roff may be a senior academic at Dundee University who has done tremendous good in her work with nuclear-test veterans. But these comments have certainly called her reputation into question. There’s been a considerable backlash and outrage in the media, amongst humanitarian groups and with student groups thinking twice about furthering their education at Dundee University. The BMA has also come out and said it would not support money being paid for organs.

Most people find the thought of an academic with no emotional intelligence, who can casually talk of turning body parts into commodities without thought to the social consequences, a very frightening prospect.

While the initial outrage is likely to die down in time, Mrs Roff’s reputation is likely to take longer to fix. And what of the University’s? Whilst Mrs Roff’s piece appears as a personal view in the British Medical Journal, her place of work was named.

It would be interesting to know what they think about all this as they have posted her article on their site – but without comment.

Without offering an opinion, it appears they are condoning her comments. And that cannot be good for their reputation. In the same way that ignorance of the law is no excuse, the University cannot feign indifference to Mrs Roff’s comments.