19 November 2010

Body Taboo (Selling of Kidneys in the Philippines)

taboo is a strong social prohibition or ban relating to any area of human activity or social custom that is sacred and forbidden based on moral judgment and sometimes even religious beliefs.

I just saw National Geographic's coverage on body taboos that are being practiced by different cultures. There was this one group in Papua New Guinea who breastfed pigs. It may seem odd to us but to them it's normal.. it's a part of their custom. 

The next featured topic was a man who was being interviewed because he was about to undergo an operation for selling his kidney. I was surprised when I saw a tricycle passing.. Is it in the Philippines? Is he a Filipino? Oh yes! He is in Manila. 

He said that he was doing it for the love of the family. He was one of those Filipinos who struggle to put food on their family's table. Well we cannot blame him if poverty pushed him to make such move. It's actually a better idea than committing crimes. 

Actually, a few months ago I heard in the news that the Philippine government is considering to legalize selling of kidneys. Is this the right move to help the poor? I know we cannot stop people if they want to sell their organs but what if the money is gone? After the operation, they are not allowed to engage in heavy lifting which will limit their options for work. What if after the operation they tend to suffer psychological illness? Instead of helping their family, they aggravate the problem.

Then I tried putting myself in a person who needs a kidney. There are a lot who cannot find a match or a donor and tend to be in the long waiting list of recipients. Many people wait in vain and don't make it. What if somebody who is my match is selling his/her kidney? Will I buy it? 

Setting aside the religious debate, I really don't know if I am for or against it. The donor will help a person live longer by giving his kidney and the recipient will help a person live longer by giving him the money for food and livelihood. I know this is not the most idealistic way of helping the poor. I believe that there are other options but i know that even if there are options available.. still there will be some people who would consider selling their kidney to have money instantly. Then maybe the government should regulate the price of kidneys in the market. Like make it a million peso so at least the money that the donor will get would sustain his/her family longer than just receiving 100 or 200 thousand. The government should also monitor post-operative care given to the donors are met. As a nurse, I know that there a lot of possible complications after surgery. 

If ever this concept will be implemented.. let us all prevent the exploitation of our poor fellowmen.

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