The Red Market
Radiation Level: RED
Listening To: Somebody That I Used to Know (feat. Kimbra) by Gotye
I just finished a book recommended to me by one of the fab geneticists at UCLA. It’s called The Red Market by Scott Carney and it’s not for the faint of heart. It follows the trail of organ brokers, blood farmers and baby sellers, highlighting the disparity between those who sell and those who buy. Very few Americans could be persuaded to sell a kidney, despite having a spare, but there are whole villages in the 3rd world where this is the main industry. Of course geneticists are working on using stem cells to grow human organs, but until this is a practical science, the “Red Market” as Carney calls it, will continue to thrive.
I have mixed feelings about the gifting/sale of body parts. I understand that at the heart of the issue, an altruistic view represents the best of humanity. I give up some of my blood so that if you are hit by a car, there will be blood on hand to save your life. But moving past hemoglobin, it gets a bit more complicated.
I used to feel very strongly that selling body parts was the lowest of the low for only the most desperate of human beings. It struck me as worse than selling sex. When my sister sold her eggs to a fertility clinic in 2000, I was disgusted. I couldn’t understand how one could just give their DNA away to the highest bidder. It was the closest thing to sacrilege I could understand. But she was young, healthy and beautiful, surely her DNA would be in high demand. It wasn’t until after her untimely death that I realized her decision to sell her eggs was an unforeseen gift (or eerie premonition) on her part. I now take comfort that perhaps part of my sister still remains on Earth in her genetic children who have inherited the same lovely bone structure and creative flair that made her so admired.
The human body is the most sophisticated, elegant, unintelligible thing in our solar system because through it, we experience cognitive life. As of 2011, no one has found anything more desirable, pleasurable or painful. To have life is to have everything. All evolution is to further ensure its propagation. Until the sun explodes, we’re hit with a meteor or drown on a hot waterworld, humans will do whatever they can to continue, extend and better their experience of life – FalloutGirl included. But hey, I’m only human.