By Richard Balagtas

The organ donation industry rakes in some $20 billion every year. Non-profit companies, such as Gift of Life and CORE, are key contributors. According to their 2012 tax forms, these two non-profits have a combined value of almost $100 million. While money is important for building and growing an industry, one wonders how much difference this capital would make if it were invested directly into saving lives instead of directly into the savings accounts of company executives. Six CORE employees and eight Gift of Life employees each earn more than $100,000 per year. The companies’ CEOs earn annual salaries of around $300,000 each.

While federal law prohibits people from receiving payment for donating their organs, individuals are reimbursed for the cost of surgery; these reimbursements often total in the hundreds of millions.

Michele Bratcher Goodwin, Chancellor’s Professor of Law at UC Irvine, finds it curious that the moral debates surrounding a legal market for organs don’t extend to situations involving sperm or ova donations. She also notes that, due to the size of the tissue market in the United States, it is extremely likely that every individual will come in contact with human tissue that has been “marketed” for implementation. For example, the white amalgam, or “filling,” that you receive at the dental office is actually human bone that once was part of someone’s body.

“With some companies making millions off of donated tissues and nonprofits building multimillion dollar reserves, is it time to revaluate the law?” she asks.

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