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Would You Donate A Kidney For $50,000?

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
A new study shows Americans would be more likely to donate a kidney if they were paid.

A new study out this week shows Americans are more likely to donate a kidney if they’re paid.

The number of people waiting for a kidney is going up to more than 100,000, while the number of transplants remain flat at less than 20,000 per year. That’s caused a kidney shortage in the U.S., and means for every successful 100 transplants, there will be 38 people who die or become too sick to get a transplant.

With that in mind, researchers asked people how they feel about donating a kidney, and how they feel about being paid $50,000 to donate to a stranger. They found most people favorably view kidney transplants, and that most would be more likely to donate a kidney if they were paid.

Dr. Thomas Peters, a professor of surgery at the University of Florida, said Congress should amend a law that would allow a pilot program to test paying patients for transplanting kidneys.

“This is, as you alluded to earlier, this is a political issue, as to regulation and law,” Peters said. “This is sort of a message to our leaders in America.”

Researchers surveyed likely voters. The study’s authors likened the idea of paying people transplanting a kidney to public views of doctor-assisted euthanasia, marijuana use and same sex marriage: In all three of those cases, public opinion flipped before the laws caught up.

“I think it’s a win-win in terms of the ethics,” Peters said. “You’re correct, there are those who oppose paying kidney donor on moral grounds. I think the moral imperative here is there are people who are dying.”

Interestingly, paying patients for a kidney transplant could actually save the U.S. health care system money in the long-run because of how expensive dialysis is. Check here to read the study in full.


Reporter Abe Aboraya is part of WMFEin Orlando. WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, which receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.