AMA Debates Offering Financial Incentives for Organ Donation
The American Medical Association's council on ethical and judicial affairs yesterday debated "paying dying people and their families for vital organs," the AP/New York Times reports. Congress banned the practice in 1984, leaving people needing organ transplants to depend "strictly on volunteers." But only one third of "potentially valuable" organs are donated, while each year 15,000 people die waiting for organ transplants. Dr. Frank Riddick, chair of the council, said, "We have a nationwide crisis, and altruism doesn't seem to be hacking it right now." The Pennsylvania Legislature in 1999 passed a law that would have the state pay $300 toward the funeral of every donor, but it has not been enacted because of the federal ban. Dr. Stephen Schwartz of the Pennsylvania delegation to the AMA meeting said, "We see little moral value in burying perfectly good organs." But "many in the field still find financial incentives distasteful," the AP/Times reports. Dr. Michelle Petersen, representing the Nebraska delegation, said, "I have a problem with treating the body and the human as property. This is nothing more than a sale." If the proposal is approved, Congress would have to change the law banning payment for organs. The council is expected to make its recommendation to the full AMA today, and the association will decide this week if it will accept the recommendation (AP/New York Times, 12/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.