Where "goodness of the heart" can't keep up with demand, is it time to start offering more tangible incentives for organ donation?
Even in the face of a chronic shortage of kidneys, we tend to feel morally icky about people offering to donate their organs -- while still living but also after
their deaths -- for any reasons other than altruism. That's not to mention, of course, the real possibility of exploitation among people who are in need of money as much as those they'd be donating to are in need of kidneys. But a stagnant donation rate led researchers at
the University of Calgary to feel out the Canadian public's willingness to consider such a radical solution.
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METHODOLOGY: An online survey was conducted of over 2,000 members of the Canadian public, along with 339 health professionals and 268 people who have or are affected by kidney disease. They were asked if they found varying amounts of financial incentives to be acceptable, and the general public was additionally asked how incentives might affect their willingness to donate.
RESULTS: Seventy percent of respondents were okay with financial incentives for kidney donations from deceased donors, and 40 percent also felt this way about living donors. However, only 14 percent of health professionals felt that paying living donors would be a good idea.
Proposed incentives that the respondents found most acceptable were a tax break, for living donors, or reimbursement of funeral expenses, for deceased donors. Few supported monetary payment to a deceased donor's estate.