How Much Would You Sell a Kidney For? Seriously, Name your Price

by Darwin on January 27, 2013

I read the occasional story about someone selling a kidney for what amounts to a few hundred dollars or less in emerging markets and it begs the question as to what a fair price is for a kidney for an individual.  Circumstances vary, but people donate kidneys to loved ones and even strangers all the time.  Oddly, in the US at least, donating an organ (or listing yourself as an organ donor in the event of your death) does not actually give you any special prioritization in the event you ever needed an organ donation yourself (I believe it should since it would increase participation and actual transplants significantly).  So, from a personal risk standpoint, if Americans are willing to give away a kidney to save someone’s life, might they not also consider selling one?

There’s a recent story about a Chinese student who sold his kidney for an iPad.  Clearly, that doesn’t seem like a very good move.  Primarily, because it’s not a lot of money, even in China, not to mention that the downstream transaction went for over $33,000 by the time it reached the patient.  Additionally, within the few short months since the story broke, an iPad is not big deal anymore and in a few years, that iPad will be completely obsolete and he will have traded a valuable organ for a tech toy.  However, everyone’s circumstances are different.

In America, there are about 17,000 kidney transplants a year, with ~6,000 coming from live donors (cadavers accounted for the rest).  That’s 6000 Americans who voluntarily gave up a kidney, so clearly there’s a market.

If you considered the following things, how much would you sell your kidney for?

  • You Have 2 :>
  • Donation usually does not change your lifestyle or affect life expectancy, no impact to having children, etc.
  • Americans do it all the time, safely
  • You’d be saving someone’s life
  • If your remaining kidney started failing, you’d have a chance to get a new one yourself under our organ donation program
  • Everyone has their price.  Think about it for a minute and tell me you’d really turn down any and all amounts…

What’s your price?  $100,000? $1 Million? $10 Million?

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

krantcents January 28, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Initially, I was just going to dismiss the idea, but millions got my attention! Fortunately, I think I am past the age (66 y.o.) of “donating” a kidney. It is certainly an interesting thought. What if I weren’t too old? I don’t think I would for any amount of money because of the permanence. I might donate one though for my child. Money is no influence, probably because I think I have enough!

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Darwin January 30, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Yeah, if you don’t need the money, it’s not even a consideration. For some younger people who have yet to earn much or may not see a fruitful future? Probably different incentives!

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Joe @ Midlife Finance January 29, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I don’t think I would sell my kidney. I don’t need money right now and any kind of surgery has some risk. I’m in the same boat as KC. Maybe 10 million would convince me, but I’d have to see the cash first.

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Darwin January 30, 2013 at 9:13 pm

I think money or lack thereof is the huge determinant. Someone down on their luck and facing some tough choices? Probably a very easy sell!

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Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin January 30, 2013 at 9:53 am

When I came across this article I imagined the scene from “Indecent Proposal” when Robert Redford pitched the couple his “million dollar offer.” After doing substantial medical research on my own and consulting with a couple doctors I would accept a price of $1.5 million, about $500k will go to Uncle Sam so that should leave me with a cool $1 million. =)

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Darwin January 30, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Sounds reasonable! I’d definitely rather sell my liver than myself!

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Pauline February 3, 2013 at 8:19 pm

My kidney has a college degree :) In France they go for about $30K, I don’t think I would be prepared to take the risk for so little money. Maybe $1M like Marvin! I would certainly donate it to a family member or friend who is a match.

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Susan February 4, 2013 at 11:34 am

Wow – I’m expensive. Obviously, for a close family member, it would just be a gift. But to sell one – and with my medical history, knowing I may need a new one in the future and no surgery is without risks that could extend out years (a family member had a reaction to anesthesia and hasn’t been right since – and it’s been about 8 years), I’m thinking I’d have to consider it for no less than $40 million. Even if I have complications, that should cover any additional medical costs to me, as well as provide for my family going forward if I were to become incapacitated from the surgery.

But for a million or two, no way.

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andy February 4, 2013 at 7:07 pm

4.4 million

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Dillon February 5, 2013 at 11:25 am

I would sell one for $5ish million. Depends on the person buying it. If they are an a-hole, the price would go up.

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Bill March 2, 2013 at 11:52 am

I’d sell mine for $100k and then replace it with another one for $50k. I would definitely be a broker if I could find a way to get into the industry. I still don’t understand why it’s illegal. Women are able to abort babies, citing their bodily rights, so why can’t one sell their kidney?

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JERI Moore March 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm

I have a daughter that is in much need of a kidney. I am too old to donate & it has to be from a living donater under 50. She cannot drink any liquid or any thing that has liquid as a base. She has lost over 60#s & looks like a PO. She is in dialysis 3 days a week (9-1) she is a prisoner to that machine. She works so hard trying not to let it take her down, some days I wonder how she does it. I pray for a kidney & good health ever night but I know she is not the only one in need. We live on our SS, which is sure not much. But I would work for the rest of my life to see her get one. The wait list here is 5-7 years & she will not be able to make it that far.I will keep praying, Jeri

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Rick May 26, 2013 at 8:53 pm

I am a single father raising 2 daughters by myself. Both just recently graduated H.S. and I have lost 2 part-time jobs I have had over the last 10yrs. I am 51 now but I am healthy,@ least physically, however the responsibility of trying to help my daughters go to college has been difficult. If any1 knows a legal way to sell a kidney & would except 1 from a person 51 please respond. P.S. Long life runs in my family grandparents 94,94,85,81. My Mom is 80 yrs old now & dances with a group of women called Sassy Seniors. If any information on donating a kidney for profit please advise Thx Rick

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Chance March 19, 2013 at 3:07 am

I have been looking for some special info on where to go online so to let who ever needs to know that I have a extra kidney to donate
. All I need is a cash gift of $200,000 as compenstion for missed work and in case of some kind of emergancy . To who it may cocern Im very seirious.

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Andrea May 8, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Have you found any info on receiving a cash gift for you kidney?

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curtis April 13, 2013 at 4:58 pm

I would not be moved for anything under 150k. Thanks. This way I could buy a house and a car and I could drive as a chauffeur. If you know of a person to contact,please forward my contact information.

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flouik55 April 14, 2013 at 5:08 pm

100000 sounds good to me

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Anthony Robertson April 21, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I had been prepared to give my kidney to a cousin in Australia but he was able to get one from another cousin. Now that I made the decision I think I will look for someone else to give it to

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Hunge Jeremiah May 15, 2013 at 12:40 am

Pay me $40 million.because my kidney is a life on his own

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StinkNasty May 15, 2013 at 1:00 am

The Average American Income Is $50,502.00 A Year Gross , So $30-35k A Year In Pocket . So I’d Want $30-35k for my extra Kidney , If A Person Wasn’t Willing To Pay A Years Average Wadge To Live 10-20+ Years For A Living Transplant , They Don’t Value There Lives Very Highly,

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pieter May 29, 2013 at 1:00 am

I would like to sell my kidney, I should say 1 million should do it I live in south africa please don’t hesitte to mail me if you are interested.

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fakoya May 29, 2013 at 2:55 am

Pls am ready to donate my kidney I need this money please am 21 years old please am begging email me.

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JC May 29, 2013 at 2:35 pm

I’d put a 175,000-250,000 tag on mine…

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