Would You Give Up a Kidney for $47,000 U.S.?




While the organ shortage is bad here in the U.S. it is much worse in Australia where only 10 percent of its citizens become organ donors as compared to the U.S. where it is 27 percent.  In both cases, though, the gap between those who need organs and available organs grows wider each year causing the needless deaths of thousands of people worldwide, 7,000 in the U.S. alone.


Australian kidney specialist Gavin Carney proposes paying kidiney donors $47,000 U.S. for one of their two kidneys.  You can read the full Associated Press story at the following URL   


He says, “Allowing the sale of organs would save thousands of lives and billions of dollars in care for patients on transplant waiting lists. He also said it would stop people from buying organs on the black market in developing countries, where they pursue risky, unregulated surgeries.”   

“I don’t support (illegal trade),” Carney said. “But I also do not agree with the fact that we should let people just rot on dialysis until they have been on dialysis so long they are untransplantable.”

Predictable, of course, was an outpouring of objections from the medical community and the ubiquitous ethicists.  None of them offered anything but criticism.  God forbid they should offer a solution; these people exist to object not to solve problems.

Fortunately, Thomas Mone who is certainly qualified to comment could at least see some merit to the idea.  (Mone is chief executive of OneLegacy, a non-profit organ procurement organization serving L.A. and six neighboring counties. He is also president of the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations, and is a director of the United Network for Organ Sharing.  He had many comments that you can read for yourself in his March 31, 2008 commentary in the Los Angeles Business Journal.  (http://www.entrepreneur.com/tradejournals/article/178189602.html)

Among other things he says, “It isn’t difficult to identify a stronger incentive. If potential donors were offered cold, hard cash and made aware that they can lead a normal life with a single kidney, there’s little doubt that the donation rate would be much higher.”

But to do so in this country would raise a number of concerns.

How much should be paid for a kidney -and who should pay it? The recipient, or the government, via Medicare? A payment of $5,000 would probably be sufficient to attract more than enough donors to erase the current shortage of 45,000 kidneys a year.

“Or,” he notes, “Instead of a fixed amount for the kidney itself, should the payment also cover expenses for hospitalization and recovery? And what about wages lost by the donor during the donation and recovery period? Should donors get guaranteed insurance coverage rather than cash?”

Mr. Mone points out the downside, too,  “…. there is little doubt that if payment for donation were permitted in this country, a huge percentage of the donors would be poor people. And if the recipients of kidneys, and not the government, were paying for them, the practice would be viewed by many Americans as allowing the rich to take advantage of the poor.”.  To avoid the risk of readers saying I took Mr. Mone out of context, I urge you to read the full commentary by clicking the URL link above.

He sums up his article by saying, “I believe the best way to proceed would be with small-scale pilot programs that offer donors lifetime insurance coverage and see what the effect would be.

If such programs do not indicate that there would be any negative effect on the national organ donation process, then the practice of paying for kidneys through insurance coverage and similar non-cash incentives should be allowed”.

Here is what I believe.  I think we have to change the current system to one of presumed consent tied to some form of compensation.  I like the idea of providing donors with free lifetime healthcare.  But even that may not be enough.

Thank you Mr. Mone.  Finally, a voice of reason from those in the health care industry

Visit BlogsByBob at http://blogsbybob.wordpress.com   Also visit and join, Organ Transplant Patients, Friends and You  http://tinyurl.com/225cfh

Posted on May 6, 2008, in Donor Compensation. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.


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