The question of paying organ donors for donation is controversial, with some critics of the idea suggesting financial compensation would lead to the exploitation of the poor. But a new survey out of Canada has found most people would support paying organ donors and that doing so would likely boost donations and not exploit low-income people.
The survey, published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, found most people say financial incentives for deceased kidney donation are acceptable and nearly half say it’s OK for living kidney donation.
Lead researcher Dr. Lianne Barnieh, of the University of Calgary, said the survey also examined individuals’ differences in opinions based on household income, as a way to gauge whether lower-income people would be more likely to donate an organ for pay.
"We did not find evidence that those with lower income would be more likely to donate for financial gain,” Barnieh said. “Though it is not possible to determine through a questionnaire whether a system of financial incentives would exploit those with lower income, the results in our questionnaire did not show any evidence of this."
For the survey, researchers surveyed 2,004 Canadians, 339 health professionals, and 268 people with or affected by kidney disease. Among the major findings:
• 70 percent found financial incentives to be acceptable for deceased organ donors; 40 percent supported paying living donors for organs.
• 45 percent of Canadians supported the idea of paying living donors, as well as 14 percent of health professionals and 27 percent of people with or affected by kidney disease.
• Reimbursement of funeral expenses for deceased donors and a tax break for living donors were found to be the most acceptable forms of financial incentives.