The commercialization of human organs for transplantation: The current status of the ethical debate
Purpose of review: Whether financial or other incentives for organs should be allowed or prohibited is one of the most challenging ethical issues facing the transplant community. This review provides an overview of the current status of the ethical debate on this issue. Recent findings: Currently, the buying and selling of organs from either living or deceased donors is legally prohibited in many parts of the world in order both to prevent the commercialization of organs and to ensure some level of equity of access to organ transplantation. Still, a number of proposals have been put forth in recent years suggesting that some form of financial compensation (e.g. direct payment, reimbursement, tax credits) or other 'moral' incentives (e.g. honorary medals) should be permitted or explored. An emerging issue that has recently received considerable attention is public solicitation of organs from living and deceased donors through commercial venues, which is seen by some as a potential means for the wealthy to gain an unfair advantage in obtaining an organ. Summary: This review tracks the ethical debate regarding the commercialization of organs along a 'commercialization continuum', with direct payment for organs at one end and public solicitation at the other. © 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
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