Dollars for Donors?

Dollars for donors? Almost no one would say selling human body parts is okay, but what about paying people who decide to become donors? Some are now pushing for just that. Thousands of folks are waiting for organs, but there just aren't enough donors. Money could be the answer, but according to one Heartland woman who struggles with these types of medical questions every day, it's a complicated issue.

Dr. Bambi Robinson teaches a medical ethics class at Southeast Missouri State University, she says, "We want to encourage people to donate their loved ones organs as a way to help the living." But is money the right way to do that?  Dr. Robinson debates and discusses questions just like this one every day. A national transplant group says yes, we should pay donors. Funeral expenses for deceased donors, other incentives for the living. After all, says the group, hospitals, the doctors, and everyone else gets paid for a transplant, why not those who give up the most?  Dr. Robinson agrees. She says, "If it takes a small amount of cash to go toward taxes or funeral expenses I don't see how that's terribly objectionable. It certainly doesn't have the same problem of paying living people for kidneys would."

The dollars for donors could go to other expenses for the living donor who donates an organ or part of an organ. This would include travel costs and paying for time off work, and donors would be first in line for an organ if they ever needed a transplant. Dr. Robinson says, "It's not so much you're paying the person per body part and carving them up and auctioning them off to the highest bidder. The way the programs are set up, it would be a way to thank family members." Right now, it's illegal to pay for organs, federal law even prohibits those suggestions. The American Medical Association is not planning on discussing what affect money may have on potential donors for at least six months.