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Should living organ donors receive financial compensation?

  • YES, if the payment came in the form of credits for future health care. (29% people answered this)
  • YES, you can already sell your blood and women receive financial compensation for eggs. (28% people answered this)
  • NO, paying for organs will undermine the system of altruistic donations that we have now. (15% people answered this)
  • NO, it might lead to a legal black market trade wherein people carelessly sell their body parts for financial gain. (26% people answered this)

1428 people voted.

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Despite years of work to recruit more donors, there is an increasing shortage of organs available for transplant in the U.S. -- the waiting list of recipients has expanded by 25% from just 7 years ago. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the nation's largest organ and tissue donation clearinghouse, reports that 14,431 people awaited an organ transplant in the U.S. as of last May, yet only 4,493 organs from 2,219 donors were transplanted nationwide. In an effort to combat this severe shortage and encourage people to take part in donation programs, some in the medical community now favor introducing specific forms of compensation for those living patients who donate kidneys, bone marrow, or parts of a liver. Federal law currently prohibits financial incentives for selling an organ, but doesn’t bar reduced rates on future health care coverage as a viable form of compensation for organs donated. Under this system health insurers and private charities would provide potential donors with an incentive to go through the inconvenience and possible risks that an operation might entail. Ultimately, this would ensure a strictly regulated market in organs. However, opponents of the proposal feel that attaching a monetary value to a human body part cheapens human life. Many from the bioethics community expressed doubts about a payment system, claiming that it might turn people off who would have otherwise donated purely out of the goodness of their own hearts. Additionally, doctors raise concerns of fairness and exploitation that may arise should an unregulated market in human body parts emerge. They point to the dangerous possibility of people selling organs indiscriminately for financial gain. It is currently illegal to buy or sell an organ for profit; but does rising shortages mean we should reconsider? Can we put a price tag on our organs? What do you think? Answer the poll and invite your friends to weigh in, too.


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