A kidney for $10,000? Paying donors actually pays off, new study finds
JoNel AlecciaNBC News
Oct. 24, 2013 at 5:01 PM ET
Christopher Furlong / Getty Images
Surgeons remove a kidney from a living donor for transplant into another person. New research finds that paying donors $10,000 could cut costs compared with keeping patients on dialysis.
Paying living kidney donors $10,000 to give up their organs would save money over the current system based solely on altruism — even if it only boosts donations by a conservative 5 percent.
That’s according to a new analysis by Canadian researchers that rekindles the ongoing debate about whether it’s practical — and ethical — to offer financial incentives for human body parts.
“We have a problem. We don’t have enough organ donors coming forward,” said Dr. Braden Manns, an associate professor and clinical professor in nephrology at the University of Calgary. He led the new study published Thursday in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
“We need to figure out a way to solve that problem. We shouldn’t throw out, out of hand, solutions that could increase donations.”
But other kidney experts say that even if it’s cost-effective to pay people for organs, the moral issues the practice generates might backfire.
“Sometimes these things have unintended consequences,” said Dr. Stephen Pastan, a board member for the National Kidney Foundation and a transplant surgeon at Emory University in Atlanta. “If we paid $10,000, a lot of altruistic donors would say that it’s just a cash transaction. Donations could go down.”
Right now the question is theoretical. In the U.S., Canada and other countries — except Iran — paying people to donate organs is illegal.
Should kidney donors be paid?
76% | 16,438 votes Yes
16% | 3,400 votes No
8% | 1,757 votes I don’t know