This article will answer the question “how much do you get paid to donate a testicle?” It’s the first in a series about Side Gigs that I’m starting on this blog.
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I write a lot about how to invest money into stocks and real estate, my two favorite asset classes. But as I’ve branched out recently into TikTok, I get a lot more basic questions about how to get extra money to start investing.
My first response is to make sure that your finances in order by creating a positive gap between your income and expenses. This is the second step in my 6 steps on How to Save, Invest, and Become Rich.
One way to create this positive gap is by decreasing your expenses. For example, you can spend less money on things like housing, food, and transportation (the big three).
But the other side of the equation is equally important: increasing your income. There are a number of strategies to increase your income in your day job, but this post is going to focus on one strategy in particular: side gigs.
Side gigs are essentially jobs or businesses outside of your normal day job. They can generate a little bit of money or a lot of money. The nice thing about side gigs are that they’re purely additive to your income. Even if you get fired from your day job, you’ll still have the income from your side gig to sustain you. And in some cases, your side gig income can replace your day job!
I’m attempting to replace the majority of my surgeon salary using real estate. This is how it’s going for me so far: $127,000 of Gross Revenue | Anno Darwinii 2.5
Can you donate a testicle as a side gig?
To kick off this series about side gigs, this first post is about testicles. Why? For two reasons. First of all, I’m a urologic surgeon, so it seemed fitting. I operate on testicles, both to fix them or remove them for reasons such as cancer. So you could say that I’m an expert in this organ.
Secondly, a surprising amount of people search the internet to see if they can make money if they donate a testicle. As a personal finance blogger, this falls into my content bucket as well.
To be clear, organ donation is one of the most unconventional ways I’ve ever heard of to generate extra income. There are a ton of problems with this plan. More on that later.
But enough with the small talk. Let me end the suspense by just answering the question: Can you make a profit if you donate a testicle?
Here’s the answer: No! Testicle donation is not a thing! And no, you can’t make money from it (in the United States).
But I heard someone got paid $35,000 to donate their testicle?
Yes, there is a story floating around the internet about someone making $35,000 for donating their testicle. It only took me about five minutes of internet sleuthing to find out that this is in reference to a news story about Mark Parisi. In 2013, this man told TLC’s “Extreme Cheapskates” show that he participated in clinical trials or medical studies for money. As part of one such medical study, he intended to donate one testicle to advance medical science. In return for his sacrifice, he’d get $35,000.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), the Las Vegas Review-Journal later found that Parisi was disqualified from the study due to low testosterone.
This story is a one-off incident that never even ended in a payout. I think it’s safe to say that aside from medical studies, you’re not going to get any money for your testicles in the United States.
While this might be condoned in other parts of the world, it’s illegal in the United States to pay someone to donate their organs to you. You might get paid to donate an organ for medical trials as noted above, but direct compensation by an organ recipient to the donor is not allowed.
In fact, there’s so much potential for abuse of power when it comes to organ donation that it’s actually regulated by the government. In 1984, the National Organ Transplant Act created the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network to run the logistics of organ transplantation. Article 30 of this act also made the sale of human organs illegal.
You can find out more about this at OrganDonor.gov.
Organ donation is a bad side gig
There are other reasons other than legality that make organ donation a bad business. You have a very finite amount of organs, and organ removal surgery has a number of risks. For example, bleeding, infection, and loss of whatever function that organ was providing for your body!
Even if you wanted to sell your family jewels, there is virtually no market for testicular transplant. Because for better or for worse, it just isn’t necessary to replace a testicle if one (or even both) are removed.
The testicles basically have three functions: sperm production, testosterone production, and aesthetics. Modern technology has given us replacement options for all of these functions: sperm donation, hormone replacement therapy, and implants.
Let’s talk about sperm first.
Sperm carries the genetic material of the testicle’s original owner, so in most cases, testicle transplant wouldn’t help achieve the goal of parenting a child of your own genetic material. If you received a donation of a testicle, the sperm produced by the transplanted organ would carry the germ cells of the donor, not your own. This basically defeats the purpose of a testicle transplant with regards to having kids. You could just as easily find a sperm donor if you don’t have any of your own, with the same effect as having a transplant. In either scenario, your kids would have the genes of the donor’s sperm as well.
(The only exception to the situation noted above is if your testicle donor is your identical twin brother.)
Finally, I’ll note that getting a sperm donor is a far easier process than trying to find a replacement testicle on the black market.
Another function of testicles is to create testosterone. The testicles interact with your pituitary gland and hypothalamus to supply the exact amount of testosterone necessary to fuel things like sperm production, libido, and masculine body features. If you lose your one testicle to something like testicular cancer, you generally do not need to start hormone replacement therapy. Your other testicle will just take over production of testosterone for your whole body. As I say to my patients, “That’s why God gave us two!”
In the rarer circumstance of losing both of your testicles, you’d lose the ability to produce your own testosterone. Luckily, there are a number of ways to artificially increase your testosterone levels via injections, implants, or topical gels. This will return your body to normal function (except for fertility, which is suppressed when you receive testosterone therapy).
A “natural look”
The final function of the testicle is (arguably) to make the scrotum look a certain way. This is something I run into at work, again in relation to the surgical removal of testicles. After I remove a testicle, sometimes my patient will request a prosthetic testicle to be implanted in its place. Similar to a breast implant, these silicone implants are filled with saline and put in the place where the native testicle used to lie. Implants don’t serve any function for the human body, but they can mimic the look of natural testicles and be mentally comforting to the patient.
How you can (safely) make money from your body
There are far better ways to generate money from your body’s natural functions. In general, I feel that it’s best to donate things that your body has in excess, or is able to regenerate.
For example, the following activities are acceptable donations to be paid for, according to both the science community and the government.
- donation of stem cells
- Red blood cell or blood plasma donation
- egg donation (for females)
- sperm donation
Each of these categories could be expanded to their own post, but I can address them briefly here today.
Human blood, plasma donation, and sperm donation in particular are good options. They are easily regenerated by the body and the mechanics of donation are quite simple. Traditionally you don’t get paid for the red blood cells themselves, but the plasma that comes along with it can be compensated.
Egg donation is comparatively more complex and requires both hormone administration and a minor surgery to harvest the eggs. But the remuneration is comparatively much higher because of these facts. There are many egg donor agencies that will pay quite a lot of money for healthy eggs from females who meet certain characteristics.
There’s a recovery period from the egg donation surgery, but donating sperm samples and blood components essentially have no recovery period at all.
In conclusion, donation of an organ is one of the more creative ways to make extra money. But for a lot of reasons, it’s horrible idea for a side gig. This applies even more so for testicles, because the functions of testicles are easily replaceable without a testicle transplant.
Let me be clear: Men! Do not attempt to donate your testicle!
If you’re motivated to generate extra income, participating in research studies is a viable option for extra cash. But I’d steer clear of ones that attempt to pay for your organs. I doubt studies like this exist anymore, but if they do, run away!
— The Darwinian Doctor
See the companion TikTok:
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