Payment for organs encouraged6th October 2006
An organ transplant surgeon says that a legalised and regulated system for paying people to donate organs should be created because of the large demand for transplants and to prevent exploitation of poor people.
The article in the BMJ, by Amy Friedman, associate professor of surgery at Yale University School of Medicine in the USA, argues for payments to be made for live organ donation, saying it would help with the â€śdesperateâ€? need for organs and does not go against current ethical practice in healthcare.
The author says that many people who agree to participate in medical research do so for financial reward, and that it should be no different for organ donation. Professor Friedman writes that â€śIf it is reasonable, legal, and ethically justified to motivate someone using monetary reward to participate in human research, then by extension the same person should be allowed a monetary inducement or reward for donating an organâ€?.
The proper centralisation and regulation of a transplant process would minimise potential harm, bringing a standardised criteria for donors and recipients and uniform fees. Professor Friedman notes that at the moment kidneys are covertly transplanted in third world countries from poorer people to wealthier recipients, but with little evidence of the outcomes.
The chairman of the British Transplantation Society Ethics Committee, Professor Stephen Wigmore, said that although the society welcomed any ethically acceptable innovation increasing the availability of organs for transplantation, there were still problems to be considered; it is still likely to be vulnerable people who donate organs, and there is no clear evidence of the mortality of living kidney donors in the long term.
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