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
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine