What would happen if it were legal in the United States to pay living kidney donors?
Would fewer donors give altruistically, ultimately driving down overall donation rates? Would the poor, motivated by a quick payday, face exploitation and grave health consequences?
Short of a real-world pilot test, physicians and medical ethicists have been left to speculate about the consequences of using financial incentives to secure kidneys for the 83,868 patients on the United Network for Organ Sharing waiting list as of mid-March.
But a study in the March 16 Annals of Internal Medicine used a sophisticated survey of 409 Philadelphia-area commuters to see how willing people would be to donate under 12 different scenarios and found that many concerns about paying kidney donors may be overblown. Among other things, participants were asked how willing they would be to donate a kidney to family members or strangers for no pay, for $10,000, or $100,000.
The whole shebang.