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My organs for a free funeral?

Blogs are not edited by PJ staff*. The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Pharmaceutical Journal.

*Blog pieces that have previously been printed in the PJ and Clinical Pharmacist are edited.

By Connie Pringle
11 Oct 2011
In the news today, I spotted an absolutely ridiculous idea. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has recommended that the NHS offers funeral expense payments to those joining the organ donor register. 

To me, there is no question here. The NHS should definitely not provide funeral expenses for organ donors. Aside from the ethical conundrum of whether families should be paid for relatives’ organs (which they definitely shouldn’t), surely the NHS doesn’t have anything like the funds to provide this incentive. Nor should it need to!  

I’ve read strong objections to the idea on the grounds that people should be encouraged to donate their organs through altruism alone. However, it’s clear our altruism alone is not enough. We need a push towards this fairytale ideal, but I can think of far more efficient methods for encouraging people to become a donor (whilst sidestepping borderline bribery). 

A well placed advertising campaign could offer the option for people to sign up through workplaces and universities, or as adjunct to applying for driving licences, passports and even CRB declarations. This would increase opportunities for new donors, and save lives.

I think that we should create a system where being part of the organ donor register is an ‘opt-out’ decision. However, Carol McGiffin from ITV’s 'Loose Women' disagrees.  Perhaps she has a point, and I shouldn’t have to opt out of giving away my organs, but isn’t the temptation to sell them even worse? 

Despite the madness, talking about organ donation has to be good for raising the profile of a really important decision. I joined the organ donor register because I know that when I no longer need my organs, someone else might. Sign up now and save a life at