New study looks at Canadians’ views on financial incentives for kidney donations

A new study has found that most Canadians view financial incentives for deceased kidney donation to be acceptable, and nearly half of the general public in Canada also find it acceptable for living kidney donation. The study is published in a current issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN).

Dr. Braden Manns, a member of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta and the Institute for Public Health at the University of Calgary, and Lianne Barnieh, PhD, from the Department of Medicine, along with their colleagues, looked to see whether financial incentives to increase donation are acceptable and whether they would change individuals’ willingness to consider donation. To accomplish this, they administered a questionnaire in the fall of 2011 to 2,004 members of the Canadian public, 339 health professionals, and 268 people with or affected by kidney disease.

Among the major findings:

• 70 per cent and 40 per cent of respondents found financial incentives to be acceptable for deceased and living donors, respectively.
• 45 per cent, 14 per cent, and 27 per cent of the public, health professionals, and people with or affected by kidney disease, respectively, supported monetary payment as a financial incentive for living donors.
• Overall, reimbursement of funeral expenses for deceased donors and a tax break for living donors were the most acceptable forms of financial incentives.

Studies are now needed to determine whether acceptability of financial incentives translates to more available organs to patients in critical need of a transplant.

The authors also examined the differences in opinion based on household income. “We did not find evidence that those with lower income would be more likely to donate for financial gain. Though it is not possible to determine through a questionnaire whether a system of financial incentives would exploit those with lower income, the results in our questionnaire did not show any evidence of this,” says Barnieh.

Kidney transplantation is the best treatment for patients with kidney failure. Unfortunately, there’s a shortage of kidneys available to those in need of a transplant, and donation rates from both living and deceased donors have remained relatively unchanged over the last decade.

Dr. Braden Manns is supported by Alberta Innovates−Health Solutions.

Media coverage related to this story

“Calgary doctors recommend cash incentives for deceased people’s organs”

“Canadians support organ donation” 680 News

“Cash incentives may boost organ donations” Top News

“Should we reward organ donors with cash?” The Globe and Mail

“How do you find more donor organs? Pay people for their body parts” Popular Science

“New study suggests cash for organ donation could boost transplant rates” 660 News

“Cash incentives for organ donations could boost numbers: study” CTV News

“Doctors recommend cash for organs” The Canadian Press/The Province

“Controversial study suggests financial compensation for organ donors” Canadian University Press


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