Leading surgeon in call to legalise sale of transplant organs

A leading transplant surgeon became the first to call for the sale of human organs to be legalised yesterday so that controls can be imposed on the growing international trade.

Professor Nadey Hakim of St Mary's Hospital, London, who is president of the Royal Society of Medicine's transplant committee, is the latest member of the medical establishment to argue that the black market in organs can no longer be ignored and measures must be taken to deal with it.

But he went further than colleagues by arguing that the risks of the unregulated trade in organs outweighed the dangers of legalising it.

"As this trade is going on anyway, why not have a controlled trade where if someone wants to donate a kidney for a particular price, that would be acceptable? If it's done safely the donor will not suffer," he said on BBC Radio 4's File on Four programme.

His remarks echo those of Sir Peter Bell, vice-president of the Royal College of Surgeons and professor of surgery at the University of Leicester, who suggested "compensatory payments" should be made to relatives who donate a kidney to a family member, as a way of staving off the growing trade in organs from the developing world.

Sir Graeme Catto, president of the General Medical Council and a kidney specialist, has also called for a debate on the issue. He said the desperation of dying patients whose only hope was to obtain an organ, legally or illegally, was driving the trade and demanded attention.

"It is illegal in this country and the vast majority of people find it distasteful but nevertheless it is one way of obtaining more organs and it needs to be discussed. People prefer not to think about it because that is more comfortable. People prefer to hide from the grim reality," he said.

Last year, the GMC's professional conduct committee found two British GPs guilty of serious professional misconduct for encouraging the trade in human organs. They were exposed by undercover reporters from a Sunday newspaper posing as patients seeking a kidney for the father of one of them. Kidney patients from Britain who have despaired of the long NHS waiting lists for a replacement organ have sought treatment abroad with organs bought from living donors in the developing world.

About 7,000 patients are waiting for kidney transplants in the UK but only 3,000 operations are conducted each year. Some kidney patients spend years on dialysis before a replacement organ becomes available. A survey of UK transplant units last year found 29 NHS patients had travelled abroad to buy kidneys illegally. In more than half the cases the kidney failed and more than a third of the patients died.

Andrew Ready, head of the renal unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, who conducted the survey, said the black market in organs should not be allowed to flourish. "Increasingly we have to look at newer concepts and some may argue that there may be a role here for financial incentives," he said.

The Department of Health is due to publish a white paper on organ donation following a consultation paper last year.

Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Life and Style
fashionThe supermodel on her career, motherhood and Cara Delevingne
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

    SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

    £30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

    Project Manager (infrastructure, upgrades, rollouts)

    £38000 - £45000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

    Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

    £50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments