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Study Suggests Paying Organ Donors Could Save More Lives

Update Date: Oct 25, 2013 01:13 PM EDT

For many patients, their lives depend on getting a new organ. Organs are so sparse that some people sit on waiting lists until they die. Despite the inefficiency of the organ transplant list, experts and researchers have not found ways to improve access to organs. In a new study, researchers set out to find a way to improve the organ transplant list. They reported that if donors were paid for their organs, specifically kidneys, more lives could be saved. On top of that, paying donors would also reduce medical bills for the health care system.

For this study, a team of Canadian researchers reported that paying $10,000 for a kidney could increase donations by five percent. Furthermore, the researchers believe that paying donors would reduce the costs that the health care system pays by $340 per patient. The researchers stated that their five percent estimation should be viewed as a conservative number. They believe that if donations actually increased by 10 or 20 percent, the amount of money the health care system would save could be in the thousands. The researchers explained that for people waiting for a kidney, the cost of dialysis over the span of a few years would total way over ten grand.

In order to see if this method would work, the researchers also conducted a survey to see if people would accept this type of deal. They researchers surveyed 3,000 Canadians. They found that 70 percent of people reported being okay with compensation for organs. However, only a quarter of doctors agreed. The researchers also found that around 50 percent of people stated that compensation could change their minds on donating organs. The main issue that this type of program would need to overcome is determining whether or not paying for organs is ethical. Once people start paying for organs, a whole new set of problems, such as exploiting the poor who might need the extra money, could arise.

According to the background information, in the U.S. alone, over 98,000 people are waiting for a kidney. Last year, over 4,500 patients died because they could not get an organ. The study was published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

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