Senior nephrologist, Dr. Gavin Carney, wants the law changed so that young Australians can sell one of their kidneys to the government for $50,000.
Trading in organs is illegal in Australia carrying a penalty of six months in jail. Last year just 343 kidneys were donated despite over 1800 people on a waiting list. Dr. Carney is exasperated at the low organ donation rate in Australia – apparently one of the lowest in the developed world at just 9.4 donors per million people.
“People just don’t seem willing to give their organs away for free.” said a frustrated Dr. Carney.
The chairman of the Renal Transplant Advisory Committee, Scott Campbell, disagrees with Dr. Carney, saying,
“There’s little doubt that you’ll get more kidneys if you offer money but it will only bring out people who are willing to gamble on adverse health outcomes in exchange for $50,000 because they are in desperate need, such as those in mortgage stress or drug addicts. Money alters perspectives on honesty and you’ll get people who do not tell the truth because they risk losing the cash.”
He is right.
Britain has the same problem. Last year the government caused outrage amongst large sections of the population by attempting to change the donation of organs to become the default option rather than a conscious choice. (ie if you don’t want to donate your organs, you have to specify so).
Neither option seems workable to me (one for practical reasons and one for moral reasons). So how do you encourage people to donate?
Update I – apparently 30% of SMH readers would flog their kidneys for $50 grand.