NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 2, 2010

Paying people for living kidney donations would increase the supply of the organs and would not result in a disproportionate number of poor donors, a study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Veteran Affairs Medical Center concludes. 

The study, published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine, called for a real-world test of a regulated payment system for organs.  It asked 342 participants whether they would donate a kidney with varying payments of $0, $10,000 and $100,000: 

  • The possibility of payments nearly doubled the number of participants in the study who said they would donate a kidney to a stranger.
  • It did not influence those with lower income levels more than those with higher incomes, says Scott Halpern, one of the study's authors and senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics. 

Halpern says the study was not designed to determine the exact number of people who would donate in a given situation, but rather how potential donors are impacted by payments, risk and whether the recipient is a stranger or family member. 

Last year, 6,475 people died while on the waiting list for an organ transplant, and 4,476 were waiting for a kidney transplant, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, part of the Health and Human Services Administration. 

Source: Katharine Lackey, "Study:  People would donate kidneys for payment," USA Today, March 30, 2010. 

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