Offering Money for Organ Donation Ethical, HHS Committee Says
Doctors told a "newly created" HHS organ transplant advisory committee Monday that offering payment to dying individuals and their families to donate organs "is ethical" in cases where the amount does not become "so large it becomes a bribe," the AP/Nando Times reports. The 40-member committee, which met yesterday for the first time, advises HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson on organ donation and distribution. Dr. Francis Delmonico, chief of transplant services at Massachusetts General Hospital, told the committee that the amount paid to organ donors "has to be considered to be a thank you, an expression of appreciation," and not a bribe. According to the AP/Times, some fear that low-income families "will be coerced into donation" and that the offer of financial incentives would "repel" individuals and families "motivated by altruism." On Sunday, an American Medical Association committee recommended that the group study financial reimbursement for organ donation (Meckler, AP/Nando Times, 12/3). Congress banned the practice in 1984, leaving patients who require organ transplants to depend "strictly on volunteers" (California Healthline, 12/3). More than 80,000 individuals are on organ transplant waiting lists. About 5,700 patients died waiting for organs last year, the AP/Times reports (AP/Nando 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.