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Organ donation cash incentives

20th April 2010

Members of the public will be given the chance to have their say about ways of incentivising organ donation.

Pound Sign

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics will ask people if money should be used as a way of encouraging people to donate eggs, sperm and organs.

At present, making a payment for organs and tissues is not legal in the UK. The Council's public consultation will run for three months and the data will be available in the autumn of next year.

The consultation will look at methods of increasing donation of blood and sperm from living donors. It will also consider how to get more people to register for organ donation.

Potential incentives include payments to donors or money towards funeral expenses, in addition to "priority" for donors in case they need a transplant in the future.

1,000 people die every year in the UK while waiting for an organ to become available. There were 3,500 transplant operations in 2009 and 8,000 patients are currently in need of an organ.

Professor Dame Marilyn Strathern, who is the head of the Council's working party, said: "We need to think about the morality of pressing people to donate their bodily material. Offering payment or other incentives may encourage people to take risks or go against their beliefs in a way they could not have otherwise done."

Keith Rigg, a transplant surgeon from Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics' working party, said: "It will be interesting to see what people really think. Will they be willing to pay for some things and not others?"

 

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