Timmy elsewhere

The Sunday Post has a slightly odd website so linking isn\’t really possible. But they picked up on a blog post I did at the ASI last week:

In Scotland 180 people receive a new kidney each year but 700 are currently registered for a transplant.

Tim Worstall, a Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute, says its time to challenge standard medical opinion that it?s unethical to pay healthy donors for organs.

?Iran is the only country where it?s legal to pay donors for organs,? he explained. ?It?s also about the only country without a long waiting list for kidneys for transplantation.

?Kidney transplant is cost-effective compared to dialysis.

?The average cost to the NHS of dialysis is ?30,800 per year ? while the cost of kidney transplantation is ?17,000, followed by a ?5000 annual spend on drugs.


?That means over a period of 10 years ? the time that a transplanted kidney survives in patient?s body ? the benefit is ?241,000 per patient.

?The payment to the donor amounts to roughly two years? minimum wage in Iran ? around ?25,000.

?A paid market is cheap. Even if we include payment to the donor (assuming it comes from public funds) the saving over the 10 years is 70 per cent of the cost of dialysis.

?Less death, better health and all for less money ? what could possibly be wrong with this idea??

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has just launched a consultation on whether it is ethical to encourage people to donate. Professor Dame Marilyn Strathern, chair of the inquiry, said, ?We could try to increase the number of organ donors by providing stronger incentives, such as cash, but would that be ethical??

The medical establishment remains firmly opposed to the idea.


A BMA spokeswoman said, ?Individuals who need money will be more likely to expose themselves to risk.?

National Kidney Federation chief executive Tim Statham said they wouldn?t be opposed to the idea of paid-for organs under a system regulated by the Government.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said, ?The Human Tissue (Scotland) Act prohibits trafficking in organs and there are no plans to change that.

?We recognise the need to increase the number of organs available and plan an advertising campaign to address the issue later this year.?

There\’s more there, (which, as I say, I can\’t link directly to but you can get there through the front page) including an insane story about a woman who has 30 people willing to donate but because they\’re strangers they cannot: the authorities insist that because money might be involved it\’s better than she stay on dialysis….or die, of course.

4 thoughts on “Timmy elsewhere”

  1. Slight off topic, but the Sunday Post really is my idea of what a Sunday paper should be like- no avalanche of supplements that will never be read- just a standard sized newspaper the same as if it were on any other day of the week.

  2. Given that most donations come from dead donors, and given that families often refuse permission even though the deceased wished to donate, I have proposed that the NHS make a payment, free of inheritance tax, to the estate of organ donors, in accordance with the organs donated. That should encourage take-up, and would help families to think more carefully at what is understandably a very difficult time by framing the issue in terms of administering the deceased’s estate rather than in terms of giving someone else the deceased’s kidneys, or whatever.

    I’m all in favour of a proper market, but the BMA’s objection, as reported, has a lot of traction, and politically it’s easier to argue that dead people don’t need their kidneys, so there’s no exploitation going on. You can then point to a functioning system sometime down the line and argue for its extension.

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