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Globalization and the Black Market Organ Trade: When Even a Kidney Can't Pay the Bills

Karen A. Hudson - In "Universal Design: The Work of Disability in an Age of Globalization," Michael Davidson links disability to the negative impacts of globalization. He considers the organ trade, in which bodies become commodities in an international market reflecting wealth and poverty, and comments on the silence about disability in literature on globalization (121). So how are people with disabilities involved in — or products of — the organ trade, and what aspects of globalization are creating and exploiting this international community of disabled people? The implications of the silence in regard to disability and the organ trade are significant, because aspects of globalization — particularly the spreading of a competitive market-based economy and the resulting privatization of healthcare — are perpetuating a hierarchy based on wealth and privilege that is exploiting poverty-stricken individuals for their organs. These exploited individuals are now disabled not only by the absence of an organ, but also productively within the community. This lowered productivity stems not from the state of disability itself, but rather from a lack of proper follow-up medical care that may result in further health complications. In turn, these health complications more often than not perpetuate the indebted state from which donors were hoping to free themselves in the first place.