News: How far should we go to boost organ donation?

This week marks National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week in Canada. Organ and tissue donation organizations across the country

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This week marks National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week in Canada. Organ and tissue donation organizations across the country are working to educate the public about the importance of donation, with the hope of increasing donation rates nation-wide. While the number of donors in Ontario rose by nine percent from 2008 to 2009, there is still much work to be done to meet organ and tissue demand.

But we’re not the only country facing a shortage of organ and tissue donations. Starting today, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics‘a respected British medical think-tank’is asking the public for their views on how to encourage more people to donate, including whether financial incentives should be offered.

"How far should we go in encouraging people to donate an organ?" asked Dame Marilyn Strathern, chair of the council’s working group at a news briefing. "Offering payment or other incentives may encourage people to take risks or go against their beliefs in a way they would not have otherwise done." (It should be noted that it is currently illegal to receive payment for body parts in Britain.)

While organ donation is certainly not a decision to be taken lightly, adding a monetary incentive to the equation can further complicate things. It also raises important ethical questions: Where do you draw the line between an "incentive" and a bribe? Should people be allowed to sell their body parts for profit?

What do you think? Should organ and tissue donors receive financial compensation? Or is there a better way to encourage organ donation in Canada?

Related:
Organ donation: One woman’s story
Organ donation in Canada

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