How Much Is My Body Worth?

Via the Guardian, Storm Theunissen discusses her experiment to find out, ultimately learning that we are worth far more dead than alive:

In Britain…there are various legal ways human body parts can be sold. I tried to see how much of the human body can lawfully be put up for sale: by trying to sell as much of my own body as I could.

I tried to sell my hair. I was quoted £50 by a hairdresser in London that specialises in harvesting human hair to make wigs for chemotherapy patients. The British pharmaceutical industry uses many bodily fluids to test new drugs, and I was hopeful for a decent sale upon learning they pay up to £1,750 for 1ml of blister fluid, £1,000 for a cup of saliva and £1,600 for a gram of earwax. The best offer I got was £30 for some blood. Another clinic would have paid me £50 for some skin – if I had psoriasis.

A decent earner turned out to be an auction website for people who buy bodily fluids for sexual purposes. Here, one can sell anything. Human urine is about £30 a pot, breast milk £5, even fingernails and faeces do their own roaring trade.

My most valuable sale item was eggs. In the UK, they only allow donors £750 compensation, which means almost no donors come forward – and many desperate prospective parents are driven overseas to buy eggs. But in the US, thousands of women sell eggs – it’s a mainstream market.

The greatest irony of all, is that my body is undoubtedly worth more dead than alive. In America, once a cadaver has been disarticulated into about 60 different tissues, the body parts are processed and made into medical products, which together are worth up to $250,000 on the open market. Some companies are listed on major stock exchanges – this is no niche market.

10 Comments on "How Much Is My Body Worth?"

  1. Calypso_1 | Aug 27, 2012 at 2:09 pm |

    There is a reason they keep trying to push circumcision.

    •  Which is better? Snipped or not?

      • Calypso_1 | Aug 27, 2012 at 11:12 pm |

        $ is made off the tissue.  In ‘developing’ countries with widespread venereal disease there is sufficient evidence to support its continued use as a VD prophylactic.  To me this is a rather extreme proposition and is rather suspect (even if supported by statistical data) given its being applied to the 3rd world.  Otherwise all major health associates, AMA, AAP, etc say it is purely elective and there is no medical reason. 
        Don’t even get me started on the mutilation/historical/religious aspects though.  It reeks of psychosocial dominance over male children and is essential ritual castration.
        The juxtaposition of trying to end female genital mutilation with the casual acceptance of circumcision is absurd at best.

        • Monkey See Monkey Do | Aug 28, 2012 at 4:05 am |

          Yeh I’ve always been curious why they continued to circumcise babies long after it was found that there is no medical reason whatsoever to do so. (and also what scientific studies showed that circumcision greatly reduced VD, and how much consensus there was?)

          Interesting theory on psychosocial dominance. I always felt it was a throwback to irrational religious tradition, but the purpose of the ritual is curious. It very well could be some sort of technique of imprinting a dominant psychosexual meme into the childs development. What are your thoughts?

          • Calypso_1 | Aug 28, 2012 at 11:18 am |

            The reintroduction of circumcision in the late 19th/early 20th centuries was largely done to prevent masturbation.  There is a reason Freud developed his castration anxiety theories – because in ‘extreme’ cases they went that far.  It’s male body control.  Even if you go to tribal rituals – being set apart, chosen by god, etc… it is still fundamentally some elevated concept of an authority dominating potentially dangerous, out-of-control male sexuality.  This is how domestication occurs.  Herd control.  
            There are plenty of studies as far as VD control in Africa.  Not too hard to find.

          • I was circumcised as an adult. It was horrendous. I really wish that my parents had chosen for me to be circumcised as a baby. And since being circumcised I haven’t stopped masturbating. 

          • Calypso_1 | Aug 28, 2012 at 11:57 am |

            Why did you have it done?
            If it was for medical reasons those are rare and not a justifiable cause for prophylactic surgery.  Guess what – necessary surgeries hurt. 
            If it a personal choice, it was just that.  At least you had one.  There are plenty of men that did not.  There are also many men that have memories of circumcision (despite any argument to the contrary).  There are also many men that have life long pain and complications from infant circumcision. 
            And yes the anti-masturbation argument once proffered is ludicrous.

          • Richistan | Aug 28, 2012 at 12:03 pm |

             Unless its a case of phimosis(very tight foreskin) it shouldnt be done at all really, its genital mutilation if theres no medical reason imho

          • Calypso_1 | Aug 28, 2012 at 12:12 pm |

            Yes you are correct but a number of other conditions that induce tissue changes including infections and cancers may lead to that.

  2. Judging by the GIS I just did for the author, Storm Theunissen, I’d be willing to go $300 or $400 an hour.

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