IRVINE, CA–On Wednesday, despite legal and moral concerns, doctors performed the first transplant operation with an organ brokered through a for-profit Web site.

Even though the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) prohibits the selling of organs, the doctors were assured that the kidney they transplanted, though brokered through the commercial Web site, was donated for free.

But what if the donor wanted to sell, instead of give away, his kidney? Why shouldn’t he be able to do it? And why should the potential recipient be deprived of the right to buy the kidney to save his own life?

Dr. Andrew Bernstein, ethicist and senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute, thinks it is well past time to rethink the ethical assumptions at the base of NOTA, which condemn to suffering and death thousands of Americans.

He argues that “America’s political system is based on an implicit ethics of rational self-interest, which contradicts in every particular and principle the explicit morality of self-sacrifice that most of us are taught in our churches and schools–and which forms the ethical base of NOTA. NOTA demands that organs not be sold but self-sacrificially given away; the practical result is few donations and thousands of needless deaths. A morality that sanctions the selfish pursuit of happiness would not prohibit the for-profit sale of organs; the practical result would be an increase in the availability of organs and thousands of lives saved each year.”

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