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Wednesday 26th June 2019

Call to legalise sale of human organs

5th January 2011

Top surgeons have called for a regulated market for the sale of human organs to be made available in the UK.


Doctors want the government to start a "public discussion" on allowing people to put their organs up for sale.

Eight thousand patients are on the donor waiting list and over 500 patients die before they receive an organ. This number is increasing by 8% annually.

However, concerns have been raised that an open market for organs could result in less well-off people coming under pressure to sell their body parts for money.

Professor Nadey Hakim, a consultant at Harefield Hospital and a leading surgeon, said he believed that a government controlled market should be allowed so that the need for black market organs would be eliminated or seriously diminished.

He described how he saw the results of surgery where patients had travelled overseas in order to get an organ transplant.

He mentioned that this type of surgery often required the patient to undergo further surgery in the UK to repair poor work. He said he was in favour of a regulated market and added: "Let's have a system that doesn't allow organs with HIV or whatever."

Professor John Harris, an ethicist at the University of Manchester, said a discussion about the issue needed to happen as soon as possible.

"Morality demands it," he said. "It's time to consider it because this country, to its eternal shame, has allowed a completely unnecessary shortage for 30 years. Thousands of people die each year [internationally] for want of organs. That's the measure of the urgency of the problem."

"Being paid doesn't nullify altruism – doctors aren't less caring because they are paid. With the current system, everyone gets paid except for the donor."


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