The Council’s suggestion of paying the funeral costs of organ donors has been included in the Scottish Government’s strategy for organ donation.

The strategy, ‘A donation and transplantation plan for Scotland 2013 – 2020’, published on 11 July, includes a recommendation that the Scottish Government should undertake a full public consultation on potential approaches to increasing organ donation in Scotland. Amongst a number of specific issues put forward for consultation is the idea of financial contributions to funeral costs of donor families.

The Council first proposed that the NHS should consider a pilot scheme to test the idea of covering the funeral costs of organ donors, in its 2011 report ‘Human bodies: donation for medicine and research’. Under such a scheme, funeral expenses would be offered if someone who has signed the Organ Donor Register dies in circumstances where their organs can be donated to others.

In its report, the Council concluded that altruistic motivations for donation of bodily material are not necessarily incompatible with some forms of reward. The report puts forward an intervention ladder to help consider the ethical acceptability of various ways of encouraging people to donate. Paying for the funerals of organ donors was suggested as one option, which alongside other schemes, may help to prompt people to sign up to the organ donor register.

Related links:

Read Katharine Wright’s blog post comparing the approaches of the recent NHSBT UK-wide strategy and the accompanying Scottish implementation plan for organ donation on our Nuff’ said blog.