Public to have say on organ donation incentives

The Caped Cod

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2009
An interesting one this

Cash incentives and the payment of funeral expenses are two ideas being put forward to encourage people to donate human organs and tissue.

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics is asking the public if it is ethical to use financial incentives to increase donations of organs, eggs and sperm.

Paying for most types of organs and tissue is illegal in the UK.

The public consultation will last 12 weeks and the council's findings will be published in autumn 2011.

It will explore ways of boosting donations from living people of bodily material such as blood or sperm, as well as ways to encourage more people to sign up for the donor register and state their wishes for their organs to be used by others after their death.

As well as cash payments or contributions towards funeral costs, other options include priority for the donor if they require a transplant later in life, the payment of more generous expenses and the sending of certificates or "thank you" letters to the donor or donor's family.

Demand for organ donors has increased in recent years and now far exceeds supply.

Professor Dame Marilyn Strathern, who is chairing the Council's working party on this issue, said she wanted to explore all the issues involved in responding to that demand.

She 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," she said.

Each year, 1,000 people in the UK die while waiting for transplants.

Around 8,000 people are currently waiting for an organ, but there were 3,500 transplant operations last year.

In response to the consultation paper, Joyce Robins, co-director of the campaigning group Patient Concern, complained that there was no patient representative on the working party.

She also queried whether the question of paying for donation of eggs, sperm and organs was even a priority in the current financial climate.

"The idea of paying living donors for organs is abhorrent as this would be tempting the poor to risk their lives.

"Offers of payment to the family of someone who has just died could tempt them to go against the wishes of their loved ones at a time when they are most vulnerable," she said.
BBC News - Public to have say on organ donation incentives
So is it right or necessary to pay people as an incentive to donate organs and other biological material?
Or is this an inadvisable move that could be opening a pandoras box of consequences, such as traffic in organs?


Active member
Jan 20, 2011
I do not understand why organ donation isn't the norm - unless otherwise specified. I would respect the rights of people to decide that their organs are not for donation, and they can carry a card to that effect, and notify their next of kin etc, but otherwise I think all viable, healthy organs should be harvested.
I can think of no good reason why not, when it will improve and save the quality of so many lives.
There would be no need for payment of any organs or tissues, except possibly eggs or sperm.


Well-known member
May 20, 2007
My understanding is that the family's wishes would be taken into account in both cases, so opt-in or opt-out by default has almost no effect.

In the US they had a system where they did donation "chains". This was where a donor says that they will donate as long as someone donates on behalf of the recipient.

This is for cases like kidney transplants. It often turns out that a family member would donate, but the tissue types wouldn't match.

The effect can be that one voluntary donation could lead to a chain of donations. While people who don't have family who will donate wouldn't receive kidneys, the effect of increasing supply means that they move closer to the front of the queue for unconditional organs.

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