Paying for organ “donations” – acceptable when it saves a life?

Organ donor campaigners are hopeful changes to compensation laws will significantly increase the number of New Zealanders opting to become live donors.

There’s cross-party support for the Live Organ Donors Bill, which will cover 100 percent of a donor’s income for up to 12 weeks during their recovery.

Currently donors are only entitled to a health and disability benefit of up to $375.20 per week through Work and Income.

Organ donor campaigner Andy Tookey told Paul Henry there is only anecdotal evidence the law change will improve donor rates, but he believes that’s compelling enough to justify the change.

“There were a lot of people who fronted up to Select Committee and said that the financial barriers were the main reason,” he said.
“They can’t afford to pay a mortgage, feed the kids and donate a kidney to a family member.”

As well as saving more lives, increasing live donor rates also makes financial sense for the health system, Mr Tookey said. Each recipient of a donated kidney who can then be taken off a dialysis machine is estimated to save the health system $120,000.

The original Member’s Bill introduced by National MP Chris Bishop set compensation rates at 80 percent, but this was increased to 100 percent before being presented to the Health Select Committee on Wednesday.

“Currently live organ donors are essentially penalised for their altruism, facing a large loss of income while they donate, even though their actions save lives and contribute to a healthier New Zealand,” Mr Bishop said in a statement.

All seems above board.  Not like we’re going to be cutting kidneys out of homeless people to sell them on the black market.


– Kim Choe, Newshub

  • Wheninrome

    Well the homeless wouldn’t necessarily qualify for the income for 12 weeks cause they would have to be earning. It would be a cheaper option.

  • Cadwallader

    Well; you have a few hearts around here WO and you didn’t need to pay for them.

  • KGB

    I 100% support this bill. I am disappointed however it only focuses on live donors.
    We have disgraceful levels of organ donation and it would have been nice to address the failing drivers licence system.
    A national registry of donors available to hospitals on-line would help. In a perfect world this registry would over-ride family interference, and disqualify those who are not registered themselves.
    Please have this discussion with your spouse and children ASAP. Too many transplants are denied by grieving families.
    I know two people who have received organs transplants. They are doing wonderful things with their new lives by way of charity to others. Their families are forever grateful.

    • GoingRight

      Not that easy harvesting organs from a dying person. Lots of rules etc. The amount that qualify is less than people realise.

      • KGB

        I have just checked the latest numbers of deceased organ donation. It is getting better with more discussion:)
        2013 – 36 (European 29, Maori 3, Pacifica 0)
        2014 – 46 (E 37, M 4, PI 2)
        2015 – 53 (E 46, M 5, PI 0)
        Qualified donors available and discussed with family.
        2013 – 122
        2014 – 128
        2015 – 136
        Based on those statistics family appear to be the problem. I sympathise, it must be a horrible position.
        Maori and PI’s need to also up their game considering they over-represent in need for transplants themselves.

  • richard.b

    If a member of the family or a close friend needed an organ from me, the compensation value would not come into the discussion.
    But if I could help a stranger and I had to be off work to do it then this is a great bill.

  • peterwn

    It does raise an issue of whether the payment needs to be ‘capped’ at the equivalent of say $200,000 per year or the situation with the self employed. I can imagine a self-made multi-millionaire claiming a payment based on a very high chargeout rate (perhaps as a publicity stunt), but would not begrudge such a payment to a self employed tradie.