8 Apr 2010

No commercialisation of organ donation - minister

3:35 pm on 8 April 2010

Health Minister Tony Ryall says the Government is not going to create a market for human organs by paying people to donate them.

The idea of paying donors a set fee for their organs was proposed at a conference on this country's low donor rates on Wednesday.

Dr Ryall says allowing such commercialisation would create significant ethical issues.

He says qualifying organ donors are paid a sickness benefit for up to 12 weeks until they recover.

However, the Give Life New Zealand lobby group says donors end up heavily out of pocket to give their organs and should be adequately compensated.

Buying of human organs supported

Support has been expressed buying human organs from overseas for transplants, as domestic donors continue to be scarce.

Figures from Organ Donation New Zealand, rank this country second last on a list showing the number of transplants carried out in 20 developed nations.

Out of the 181 organ transplants performed in New Zealand last year, 121 were kidney transplants.

Waitemata District Health Board chief medical officer Dr Johan Rosman, a kidney physician, says the shortage is leaving patients to a miserable and expensive wait on dialysis.

He supports the idea of a strictly managed trade of organs from developing countries and says people want to avoid looking at the deeper moral issues of buying organs.

Dr Rosman says New Zealanders are already getting organs from places like India and he has treated two patients, who have returned home from black market transplants.