Ethical Kidney Donation Scheme

With a reformulated policy in hand and having already spoken to some healthcare professionals (i.e. transplant), the Kidney Donation team addresses public concerns and opinions around this policy. This includes a public debate around the ethical implications of this policy as well as campaigns to spread awareness both to the Scottish public and its MSPs.

Published

2017

Health

Authors

Conan Phimister

Francisco Couto

Heather Wilson

Benjamin Jackson

Connor Hounslow

Priyanka Raghakrishman

Gregor Phimister

Executive Summary

There are currently 5,400 patients on the waiting list for kidneys within the UK. Around 400

will die this year as they wait for a transplant. Around a further 800 are suspended from

the waiting list as they will become too ill to receive a transplant and may never recover.

Currently, the Government attempts to deal with this shortage by attempting to remove all

the current disincentives to donation. Thus, they have exhausted all non-positive incentives

for living donation. Further to this, the UK Government and devolved assemblies have been

discussing the possibility of an Opt-Out system for kidney donation which would move from

informed to presumed deceased donation. However, recent research shows that an opt-out

policy will only supply around 563 kidneys per annum. As such, under the the current UK

framework, even with the adoption of an Opt-Out system, government policy falls short.


This paper argues that, given the lack of any other feasible ways to solve the UK’s chronic

under-supply of kidneys, the government should run a trial of financial incentives for living

kidney donation, in the form of pension contributions or tax exemptions. The large

disparity in dialysis and transplantation costs means that the NHS can adopt these policies

without any additional contributions from the government. Furthermore, by transferring

the financial incentives into the long run, ethical objections which make upfront payment

for organs politically unfeasible are avoidable.