Organ Donation Can be Boosted by Offering Free Funerals, Medical Ethics Group Says
Organ donation rates can be boosted by offering free funerals to people who donate kidneys, livers and other organs, according to an influential British medical ethics group.
A set of recommendations published Monday by the Nuffield Council lists various ways to encourage people to donate more body parts, including organs, blood, eggs and sperm. The council suggested that Britain's health system test the idea of paying for the funerals of people who sign up to the national organ donor register and then die after donating a body part.
Free funerals would not be available to living donors — that is, those who voluntarily give up a kidney, bone marrow, or liver. "We have ruled out giving people a direct financial incentive to donate," Keith Rigg, a transplant surgeon at Nottingham University Hospital and an author of the report, told The Associated Press.
Rigg told reporters Monday that the free funeral would not benefit the donor, but rather help surviving relatives at a difficult time. The idea, he added, is similar to what's done in medical schools, which often cover the funeral costs of people who donate their bodies to science.
The funerals proposal should be tested first to see if it would actually increase organ donation rates, Rigg added. But other experts are skeptical of the free funeral incentive. "Associating free funerals with organ donation is an odd reward," Art Caplan, msnbc.com contributor and director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, told AP. "It reminds people of how they get to be an organ donor and may make them nervous."