Radio/podcast: Freakonomics on paying for organs

Freakonomics: You Say Repugnant, I Say … Let’s Do It!
available now free as a podcast from their site, or from the iTunes store, or you can play (stream) it directly without downloading or read the transcript

From the Freakonomics website: “Some ideas are downright repugnant. Like … paying for human organs.

On the other hand, isn’t it repugnant to let thousands of people die every year for want of a kidney that a lot of people might be willing to give up if they were able to be compensated?

Our new podcast ventures into the realm of repugnant ideas. The fact is that the repugnance border shifts over time. Selling eggs or sperm, “renting” a womb: not long ago, all of this was considered way out of bounds. So was birth control and adoption. Go back a bit further in history: currency speculation, charging interest on loans, even selling life insurance — these practices, too, were almost universally felt to be repugnant.

Will the border shift for human organs as well?

On our journey through the repugnant, you’ll hear from … Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt; Harvard economist (and the dean of repugnant ideas) Al Roth, who has thought long and hard about organ shortages; and two doctors — one an Israeli transplant surgeon, the other a New York emergency-medicine specialist — who stare their existing organ-donor protocols in the face and spit on them. Because sometimes the best way to fight repugnance is with a little repugnance of your own.”

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