Legal Issues of the 3D printing of Organs

The main legal issues that I focused on are over the ownership of the artificially created organs as well as the implications that 3D printing has on the black market sale of organs. The main conclusions that I found were that there is a possibility that the data file of a person’s organ could have split ownership between the subject is came from and the doctors/scientists that transformed it into a data file. The other conclusion that I found pertained to the possible effect that it would have on the black market for organs. The unlimited replication potential will help cause the supply to increase of organs, which will lower the incentive for people to head to the black market in the first place to get an organ. Currently, people wait on donation lists- but some people decided that the black market sale and transplant is more worth their time. The increased supply of organs would alleviate some of demand on the black market because people will be less desperate, but there still remains an issue of getting the organ transplanted by a professional doctor.


1 thought on “Legal Issues of the 3D printing of Organs

  1. Thomas Batelli

    There are many legal and ethical aspects to consider when talking about artificial organ printing. I thought the video was very informative on these issues and I think there is an interesting perspective being offered. Naturally, when I think of 3D organ printing even being a real “thing”, I imagine all of the people that can be cared for and saved that are suffering from horrible diseases and potential organ failure. Obviously, there are other types of people who visualize personal profit from such an invention. Artificial organs create a legal gray area that many people are not sure what to make of.

    This then delves into an interesting topic of ownership. The video tackles how the copyright law can play a large role in this controversy. These organs, if considered to not be a human being, would then fall into the realm of “split-ownership”, which would be between the scientists whom manipulated the cells as well as black market trade plays a huge impact on this scenario as well; because of the lengthy amount of time people have to wait before even being considered for a transplant. The need for organs is essential- obviously, because we need them to live. However, the thought that scientists can “grow” organs in petri dishes or manipulate structures by “stacking” cells to replicate a human organ is astounding, to say the least.

    After I finished the video, I proceeded to the company Organovo’s website listed under the article to see what it was really about; “Changing the shape of medical research and practice: Structurally and functionally accurate bio printed human tissue models”. There is actually a stock market for these artificial organs as well. The website also mentions “The cell source can be either allogeneic or autologous (using the patient’s own cells), which could allow us to avoid transplant rejection and the need for life-long immunosuppressant drugs.” No wonder people are going to craze over this- the scenario pitches nothing but ideals, however there are still ethical issues that profits may blur.

    The unlimited replication of artificial organs will inevitably cause ethical controversy. So far, the company has already successfully replicated a liver and a kidney. As organs are a highly demanded product with a very low supply, the need will always be high. Ethical doctors of course legally can only transplant organs that are donated, however, less-than-ethical doctors can transplant organs that are illegally obtained for significant personal compensation from the person in need. Of course, this is creating an even bigger problem in the natural market, given the “data file” were to get into the wrong hands. Technology can create advancements and opportunities that may seem to be everything we ever needed, however the nature of ethics will always be side by side.

    In conclusion, I am not sure how I personally stand with my opinion on this topic. Of course it would be ideal to have organs replaced at the drop of a tack, however, I think that the gray areas, legally and ethically, speak tremendously for the potential problems that will find their way.


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