Story at a glance

  • A New Jersey man found out it was illegal to sell his own organs after he attempted to do so when he was short on cash, and he is now suing the federal government.
  • Bellocchio’s attorney, Matthew Haicken, told the Post in a statement “if John ever had the opportunity, he should be legally free to sell his kidney.”
  • “If the opportunity existed so that I could help out someone in need while helping myself, I might do it,” Bellocchio said.

A New Jersey man found out it was illegal to sell his own organs after he attempted to do so when he was short on cash, and he is now suing the federal government. 

John Bellocchio filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court against U.S. Attorney General Merick Garland Thursday for the right to sell his organs, The New York Post first reported

Bellocchio’s attorney, Matthew Haicken, told the Post in a statement “if John ever had the opportunity, he should be legally free to sell his kidney.”

“I believe the current law is unconstitutional. People should have the right to do with their body whatever they want,” Haicken said.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment to the Post. 


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Bellocchio, an academic whose business connects people with service animals, explained to the paper that the current law goes against his constitutional right to decide the fate of his own property. He added that there is a “broad misunderstanding” in the public about the true nature  of the organ market regulated by the federal government. 

“The reality is that on average there are 113,000 people every year on the waiting list for a new kidney, the vast majority of whom will die before they even have the opportunity to move near the top of the list,” Bellocchio said.

“If the opportunity existed so that I could help out someone in need while helping myself, I might do it,” Bellocchio said.

Bellochio told the outlet he believes a procedure, like a kidney transplant, is a relatively safe procedure, and the law shouldn’t prohibit a person from selling one if they can donate one — it is not illegal to sell blood plasma or sperm. It’s supply and demand, he said. 

“However, demand outstrips supply, and there is no valid constitutional or public policy rationale why one should not be able to receive a profit from such a transaction.”


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Published on Apr 15, 2021