Your body isn’t a temple — it’s really more of a used car. You’re full of parts, and someone might need them. At the very least, you’re probably worth a few bucks of scrap metal, but if you’re lucky, you might strike a good deal on some of your other bits. In fact, you might be able to even keep the car running after you’ve sold off your premium-leather seats, or whatever.
The point is, I’m broke and you are too. So I spoke to Dr. Marc Leavey, a retired primary care physician in Maryland, about which portions of my flesh I could remove in order to make a quick buck. He prefaces the answer with an excellent point: These donations are priceless. “The life-saving potential for organ donation is unique,” he says. “Heaven forbid if they were in need of an organ to survive, having to pay a price, often a premium price, to live may cost them their lives.” It’s all wrapped into the capitalist horror of our American healthcare system, which kills people who can’t afford first-class treatment.
That said, let’s just pretend this is a fun little thought exercise, conducted in an ethical vacuum. What could I live without?
Got some thick red body juice? Share the wealth and donate it. People need blood!
Filtered Blood: $20 to $50
If you need money, “fractional blood products such as platelets, certain cells or chemical constituents” are also valuable, Leavey says. “You are able to reconstitute these with a good diet and some time.”
While the Red Cross still seeks platelet donations from good-hearted people, private companies will pay you for your plasma, the clear part of your blood. To retrieve this, your blood is drawn and separated, and then the remainder is put back in your body. It’s a bit more unpleasant than regular blood donation. You can usually make around $20 to $50 at a time. Private centers will let you donate twice a week.
Your Disgusting Seed: $70 a Pop
Want to jerk off in a cup and maybe be a secret dad later? Donate sperm. Most centers offer $70 per donation ($50 at the time you make the donation, and an additional $20 when the sperm is used) or up to $1,500 a month.
Stunning, Life-Giving Eggs: $8,000
I could make a few grand from donating my gorgeous, perfect eggs. This center in Beverly Hills offers $8,000. But no matter how beautiful, talented and fertile you are, know that the egg-donation process is far more complicated — and invasive — than sperm donation, requiring multiple visits and likely some side effects from the surgery and fertility drugs. Understand the complications and risks (like, say, twisted ovaries) well before you consider the process.
Kidneys on the Black Market: $2,000? $200,000? It’s Anyone’s Guess, Really
“One kidney could be donated, presuming the remaining kidney is healthy, and I am aware of these being sold on the black market,” Leavey says. “And living liver donors are used at some centers, but, again, this is not typically marketed for sale. Other organs, such as your heart, lungs, spleen, gut and such are needed for your health, and would not be removed from someone who does not meet the criteria for an organ donor.”
Selling your organs is illegal in the United States, but on the black market, a kidney is hypothetically worth up to $200,000. That said, unless you’re selling directly to the buyer, you might see $5,000 or less of that money.
What about the rest? “Solid organs are more problematic, as you really can’t do without an organ that serves a unique function without backup,” the doctor says. “You don’t really need your appendix, but no one would want it; and you can live without your gallbladder, but, again, it has little intrinsic value,” he says. Some estimates say the going rate for a gallbladder is worth $1,200.
Giving Away Your Parts for Free: Priceless!
“While donating your organs may not make you financially rich, it can enrich your life in so many ways,” Leavey stresses. “Blood and blood-product donation through the American Red Cross and local hospitals, bone marrow through several agencies, and organ donation, such as kidney donation, through a transplant center have immeasurable value.”
Leavey continues: “Certifying that you are an organ donor after death is another way that you can help many people after you have passed away without impacting your lifestyle. Anyone can do that, regardless of age or other medical conditions.”
For what it’s worth, my gut (sorry) tells me selling off anything but plasma, sperm and maybe eggs (if you’ve really considered it)… isn’t really worth it. You’d probably sleep better at night by simply donating what you can spare now and becoming an organ donor after death. The Red Cross is in constant need of blood. You might even score a movie ticket out of it, or something! It’s actually your duty as a sack of blood to share some of it.