Peer Reviewed
Medicine and the Law

Selling human organs and tissue

Loane Skene, Paul Nisselle
In Australia, donors give their organs and tissue to help others, with no financial reward. Should these organs be used for patients from other countries, especially if they are not needed for Australians, and should these foreign patients have to pay for the actual organs or, alternatively, for the complete medical treatment – which would include the supply of the organs?
Key Points

    In January this year, it was reported that the Queensland government admitted selling ‘spare’ livers to foreigners for $180,000 each. In this report, the Queensland Health Minister, Wendy Edmond, said that the livers sold were spare livers not needed for transplantation in Queensland or other parts of Australia and that the recipients were mainly Japanese patients who came to Queensland for treatment, paying $180,000 each to cover the cost of the procedure.

    People familiar with the Australian scheme of organ and tissue donation might be surprised by this news as donation here has always been based on altruism.

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