So, it was reported today that Professor Roff of Dundee University, writing in a personal capacity in the British Medical Journal, has suggested that the sale of kidneys from living donors could help meet the demand for transplant organs. She even suggested a retail price of £28,000 per kidney – somewhat more than a CICA award for loss of one kidney but less than keeping an NHS patient on dialysis for a year.
She is quoted as saying:
“The increase in diabetes and hypertension in the community puts further pressure on the need for kidney transplantation, but the rate of donation of kidneys from deceased and living donors has never kept pace with the need.
“We have compensation models, for criminal, worker, and military injuries, which have agreed tariffs, such as £2500 for a fractured coccyx and £22,500 for the loss of one kidney.
“It would not be such a big step to move towards regulated paid provision for live donors’ kidneys. This would be far different from the illegal organ market that exists now in several countries, and we must not make the mistake of ruling out a properly-regulated system because of the depredations of the current illegal market.
“The standards of care before and after operation would be as good as they are now for kidney donors in the UK. The kidneys would be allocated in the same fair way as they are now.”
The suggestion has already proved controversial with many suggesting that the sale of human organs is inequitable, distasteful and immoral.
It is worth noting that it is also unlawful under EU law.
Article 13 of the EU Organ Donation Directive (EUODD) (or, to give it its Sunday title: DIRECTIVE 2010/45/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 7 July 2010 on standards of quality and safety of human organs intended for transplantation) states:
Principles governing organ donation
1. Member States shall ensure that donations of organs from deceased and living donors are voluntary and unpaid.
2. The principle of non-payment shall not prevent living donors from receiving compensation, provided it is strictly limited to making good the expenses and loss of income related to the donation. Member States shall define the conditions under which such compensation may be granted, while avoiding there being any financial incentives or benefit for a potential donor.
3. Member States shall prohibit advertising the need for, or availability of, organs where such advertising is with a view to offering or seeking financial gain or comparable advantage.
4. Member States shall ensure that the procurement of organs is carried out on a non-profit basis.
The EUODD sets minimum standards that must be met across all member states. NHS Blood & Transplant is “currently working with the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) to apply a consistent and harmonised regulatory framework by August 2012″.
This being a health issue, it is a devolved matter, but the Scottish Parliament has asked the HTA to be their Competent Authority for the EUODD and HTA has accepted this role.
And that, it would seem, is the end of the matter.