Selling a kid or a kidney – Which is the better business model?

A few years back a friend who had just recently been married was wrestling with the to have or not to have kids question. Knowing that I had collected several of these critters myself, she asked my thoughts on the risks and rewards that come along with being a parent. Our discussion was almost exclusively in terms of emotional risk/reward, keeping monetary considerations out of it. In retrospect, that was an egregious error.

I’ve been reflecting on that conversation some 10 years later, having read an article recently about a father’s failed attempt to sell his kid in a Wall-mart parking lot. How far are we willing to go to support ourselves in a bum economy? Surely he could have sold a kidney or something. I found myself asking an odd question. Which is the better risk reward scenario, having a child or selling a kidney?

I’m a bottom line kinda guy so I’m inclined to use a balance sheet to get a clear picture of what we’re looking at.

According to ABC News the Department of Agriculture recently released a report saying that the average middle class kid born in 2008 will cost approximately $221,190 to raise from birth to 18 years of age. That’s a BIG investment. Factor in college costs and that investment can double, even triple. But here’s the good news. Kiplinger says that if you’re the average family, you’ll see a tax benefit of $2900 a year. Well, that’s something for the positive side of the ledger.

Let’s suppose that I decide to sell my kid instead. It is illegal to sell a child, so we’re talking theoretically, of course. Prices vary wildly when selling children. There’s the story of the guy who tried to sell an infant in Walmart for $30, a mother who attempted to sell her kid to the highest bidder on eBay, and a father who put his kid on Craigslist for $5000. Reportedly, he stated in the ad that his kid was one of a kind, a great kid. Hmmm. And you’re selling him. Are kids covered under lemon laws?

Okay, since he’s such a catch, let’s go with the $5000 kid. The child is reportedly four years old so we prorate the expense over that term. We divide $341,674 by 18 and we get $18,981.89 per year…times 4 equals $75,927.55. That’s our total cost to date. Factor in revenue of $5000.00 on our $75,927.55 investment.

Here’s our balance sheet:

  • Estimated cost from 0-18 years old: $291,570 (adjusted for inflation)
  • Est cost of tuition to a 4 year college: $50,104 (avg. out of state tuition per
  • Total: $341,674
  • Prorated over 4 years: $75,927.55
  • Revenue: $5000
  • Net Profit/Loss: ($70,927.55)

It doesn’t take a genius to see that this is not a good business model.

As an alternative, let’s sell a kidney. Apparently this too is illegal. Well, I was never one for rules so let’s continue regardless.

Just as with selling kids, estimates for kidneys vary greatly. In his article entitled How much is your kidney worth, John Stossel uses the example of a listing that appeared in the for sale section of a St Petersburg Fla. newspaper. “Kidney, runs good, $30,000 or best offer.” Thanks to the numerous after dinner martinis I’ve consumed, my kidneys are fermented. That ought to be worth something extra so I’m holding out for more.

There are harvest centers in some parts of the world where the trafficking of a kidney is an acceptable practice. In Israel a kidney can fetch as much as $80,000. Those numbers are much more enticing. Hell, for that price, take two. They’re small.

To get a proper revenue estimate we’ll have to make a few assumptions, Let’s say that I’m 30 years of age. That’s a typical child bearing age, one that is consistent with having a four year old. Let’s also assume that the average price of a martini where I live is $7.50. If I have one martini a day from the age of 21 until the age of 30, I will have spent $2,737.50 a year on the maintenance of my finely fermented kidney. Times 9 years, that would be $24, 637.50 total investment in my kidney over that time.

Here’s my balance sheet:

  • Estimated cost of fermented kidney: $24,637.50
  • Revenue: $80,000.00
  • Net profit/Loss: $55,362.50

I’ve made a profit!

This appears to be a much more solid revenue source than selling the kids. While the Tea Party and Occupy folks argue about how to resolve the budget deficits experienced worldwide, it occurs to me that we may have hit on a realistic solution. Pardon me whilst I step out for a few…

It’s martini time.

Richard Rossi is a guest blogger, humor writer and illustrator from North Carolina by way of Syracuse NY. You can find his Childrens books at or Costco. Stop by and see him at his Orange sports and entertainment website where it’s always martini time.

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  1. How Much is Your Body Worth? | My Next Buck
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