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Organ donors’ funeral costs should be paid, report says

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d6557 (Published 11 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6557
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Organ donation rates might be boosted if donors’ funeral costs were to be paid by the NHS, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics suggests in a new report.

A payment would be triggered only if donors had signed the organ donor register and died in circumstances making their organs available for donation. The report draws a parallel with existing arrangements for people who donate their bodies to medicals schools, which then undertake to arrange their final disposal by cremation or burial.

The working party responsible for the suggestion said that it is a way of offering a financial inducement with little risk of turning organ donation into a financial transaction. The donor would not gain personally so would be unlikely to sign the organ donor register simply to get a free funeral, especially as only a tiny fraction of those who do sign the register are potential donors at their time of death. And even if potential donors had it in mind to spare their estate or next of kin the cost of …

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