Bit short of cash? Donate your relatives’ organs in exchange for freebie funerals

graveyardA new report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics suggests that the NHS should test the idea of paying for the funerals of organ donors to help tackle the current shortage of organs. Under such a scheme, funeral expenses would be offered as a ‘gift’ if someone who has signed the Organ Donor Register dies in circumstances where their organs can be donated to others.

Professor Dame Marilyn Strathern, described this as an ethical way of encouraging more people to sign the Organ Donor Register. She said:

“The possibility of sparing relatives the financial burden of a funeral might encourage more people to register as donors. Paying for the funerals of organ donors would be ethically justified - no harm can come to the donor, and it would be a form of recognition from society. We think a pilot scheme to test the public response to the idea is worth trying, alongside other schemes”.

The other schemes in mind also involve some kind of reward for the donation of organs, although it is to be clear that these are gifts and NOT payment for body parts. Which it might otherwise look like, being the exchange of one thing (organs) for monetary value. Glad we’ve sorted that out then.

Currently, 18 million people – around 30% per cent of the UK population - are signed up to the Organ Donor Register, but the 8,000 people on the waiting list for an organ transplant will wait an average of three years for a suitable donor to become available and three people die every day whilst waiting for an organ. The NHS are aiming to increase donors to 25 million by 2013.

As previously stated, the Nuffield Council are not advocating paying for organs, which is a good job, as it is against the law to offer or accept payment to donate organs for the treatment of others in the UK. The Council believe this type of ‘gift’ payment is just enough to encourage donation, but not enough to undermine the inherent altruism that encourages most donees to offer to donate.

Roger Goss, of Patient Concern, disagrees: “Offering funeral expenses in return for organs may result in families leaning on sick relatives to donate because it can save thousands of pounds.” Just so long as they don’t lean on them with a pillow until they stop wriggling…

So what do you think? Would the offer of a free funeral change your behaviour as guardian of a loved one’s body parts? Would you do it anyway? Would you prefer the opt-out system of Spain and Belgium where it is assumed that people consent to donation unless they objected to this before they died, or their family objects? Surely the NHS has better things to spend its money on than in persuading people to do the right thing?


  • Dick
    I'm against it since they only pay out if you die and your organs are useful. Therefore society does not recognise your gift by offering your organs, it only recognises that you have done something good if you die at an age / in a way that your organs can be harvested. They are implying that if you agree to donation but live such that your organs are past their sell-by date, then you are no better than someone that never offered their organs.
  • Will
    Still don't see how there is such short supply for organs. Who is thinking; "hmm, what will I need when I'm dead? Yes, I would like to have them burried/burnt with the rest of my corpse. What? Someone alive could do with some of them to keep them alive? Ummm, no. I still want to burry/burn them". Spiteful, selfish shits.
  • Phil76
    Will, It's a choice everyone can make for themselves. End of.
  • zeddy
    @Will +1
  • Jesus
    Hi guys. Don't give out your organs - you'll need them in heaven. We don't give out new ones I'm afraid. There was some disussion about it but my Father and his Spirit were dead set against it. Got some guys here without any eyes - just plain creepy.
  • Will
    I apologise if my comments offended anyone. You may still have my kidneys/heart/eyes/skin/testicles when I die. I will not be filtering/pumping/seeing/reproducing when I am a pile of dust.
  • Will
    Forgot the skin: I will also not be keeping my external environment out of my body, since my body will be dead. Thanks.
  • Gav
    Organ onation should be compulsory. If the donor is a chav then being dead first should not be a prerequisite.

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