I cannot be the only one who has thought about selling various parts of myself for huge sums of money, particularly just before payday or when a new iPhone comes out.
I don’t drink, exercise semi-irregularly, eat fairly healthily, live in a safe city, and have the love and support of a wonderful wife and a caring family. My organs are, I think, in pretty good condition. If I put my heart or lungs on Gumtree or eBay, I would list them as being in ‘near new condition – slight scuff marks’ and set the starting price at a couple of grand (or nearest offer).
I do not want to get into the moral issues surrounding the sale of body parts in this section. I care not for morals in this book, whether they be of the virtuous or the loose variety. No, I simply wish to answer the question of whether it is legal to sell your own body parts for money, or to buy body parts from someone else.
Sadly, it is not. Buying, selling, or trading body parts is illegal in every, well, part of Australia.
‘That’s bullshit’ (I hear you mutter from wherever you are reading this right now). ‘If I need a new kidney because I am suffering from kidney failure, then I would get admitted to hospital and would hopefully receive a new kidney from a donor. At some point, I will have to pay medical bills and that would, in a way, be buying a kidney.’
‘Look’ (I would calmly say in response) ‘don’t be difficult. You are right that you might have to pay your medical bills, but all of those costs would be for the medical services you received and not for the kidney itself. You will not see “1x kidney (used) – $5,000” on your itemised invoice for the medical services you received. You got your replacement kidney for free from a beautiful and kind donor.’
Now, you might want to give money or goods to the person who donated the kidney (if they are still alive) or their family (if, tragically, they are not), as a way of saying thank you. Even if you do this, you’re not paying for the kidney itself, and the donor or their family are not taking your money or goods in exchange for it.
All is not lost though, my body-part-selling reader. Like most laws, there are loopholes that might (and I have to emphasise the might bit) allow you to sell your body parts in return for cold, hard cash. Before you get too excited and start looking for your good carving knife, your esky, and a large amount of ice, you should know that the loopholes are not as exciting as I may have initially indicated.
You can sell your hair. I guess it is a body part. Apparently your flowing locks can fetch quite a pretty penny too, although I wouldn’t know as I’m a ginger and no one wants ginger hair. Not even me, but I am stuck with it.
And that’s it for legally saleable body parts. If you want to give away any of your other bodily bits and bobs, you are going to have to donate them. Sperm, eggs, blood, your whole body to scientific research – it all must be donated for no financial gain. Your travel and medical expenses might be covered, and you might get a cookie and a milkshake if you do something nice like donate your blood or plasma, but you will never receive a cash payment.
So you are stuck with selling your long, glorious, clean hair, if you want to sell any part of yourself for dollars and cents. If you do this, I salute you for brazenly flaunting the law on human-body-part trafficking. Keep it quiet, though, so you don’t spoil this loophole for anyone else. You’re really on the fringe of the law, and things can get curly if you are not careful, and nothing in this world is perm-anent. Financially, you won’t be streaks ahead by selling your hair, but you might be in a bit better financial conditioner, if you don’t get foiled or too colourful.
One final thing. Don’t think you can just go to another country, where laws on buying and selling body parts might be less strict than those in Australia, because there is no such country. Selling body parts is illegal in every part in the world. This is a big deal. It is hard to find any other act that is illegal in every country. Even countries that permit, nay encourage, what I consider to be horrific practices such as stoning, capital punishment, and the sale of young women for prostitution and slavery also make it illegal to sell specific body parts. I guess with those countries, you either sell the whole, living package, or nothing at all.
The global stance taken on trafficking in human body parts is, I think, the clearest evidence that we consider our personal bits, big and (as I know all too well) small, to be priceless.