Yes, I know it sounds rather like the title of a Harry Potter novel. It was meant to!
If that seems a bit unlikely (as unlikely as Platform 9 3/4, in fact), that’s because it is. World News Daily Report is a spoof news site, and Snopes confirmed a few hours later that the story is false.
The thing is, a lot of people believed it (including my friend) and many people were up in arms about it. Comments ranged from the relatively benign:
How dare he deprive a younger and healthier person of a heart?
To the highly libellous:
Who died so he could get a new heart? With their money, they obviously murdered someone.
Wow! So much hate.
And this got me thinking …
If I was rich beyond most people’s wildest imaginings, and I needed a new heart because mine was wearing out, but I knew I wouldn’t be offered one through normal channels, what would I do?
Firstly, I’d get my people (you always have “people” when you’re rich; you don’t do anything yourself) to track down a suitable donor. This would likely be someone in a developing country who was dying of something that left their heart undamaged. Once it was confirmed that they were a suitable match, my people would contact them and say …
Oh, let’s see …
How about, “I’d like to buy your heart, and I’ll make sure your family never want for anything again.”
That should do it.
People say this kind of thing would be unethical. If you’re old, you should give a younger a person a chance at life. But what would you do, if you were the wealthy person who didn’t qualify for a transplant because you were too old, but you felt like you had so many more things still to do?
If I could buy a transplant, I’m sure I’d do it.
And what about the person selling the heart?
The biggest fear many of us have is of dying and leaving our loved ones unable to cope without us. Wouldn’t it be a tremendous relief to know they are going to be cared for financially? I know it would be to me. In fact, if I was dying and someone came along and offered to take care of my animals, and make sure they were placed in loving homes where they would be looked after for the rest of their lives, in return for one of my organs, I’d say,
“Great. Where do I sign?”
(No, not really. I’d get the paperwork checked by a lawyer first.)
The question my friends, and everyone commenting on the posts and discussions about this, are really asking is:
Should anyone be allowed to buy life?
And the answer – my answer – is no, they shouldn’t. But this Capitalist society we’ve created, the one that creates jobs, wealth and opportunity for all, and all the other things we find so desirable, also allows those who have enough money to buy whatever they want.
If you offer enough money, someone will sell you anything you want.
All this is irrelevant, of course. The article was a spoof. David Rockefeller doesn’t have a new heart, and the organisations he’s pledged money to on his death can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that he hasn’t just bought himself another 8 to 10 years of life. (Did someone say unethical?)
But the issues raised are still interesting to think about.