Organ donations save lives. Unfortunately there are not enough donors. 1,000 people die in Britain every year waiting for a transplant. Enter Gordon Brown with a plan: presumed consent. Yes, that means that unless a person specifically declines to be a donor, the government health system can automatically take from their body. While the severity of the problem leads any rational individual to search for a solution, forcibly harvesting the organs of the recently deceased is not the proper response.
An alternative comes from an unexpected place: Iran, the only country to have successfully eliminated waiting lists for kidney transplants. They have done so by instituting a kidney vendor programme.
A not-for-profit body called The Dialysis and Transplant Patients Association (DATPA) matches vendors with patients. The vendors are then financially compensated by the government. By this system, vendors do not meet donors, and so nobody can be put under financial or emotional pressure to become a donor.
Vendors also receive health insurance and additional funds from recipients or charities.
By allowing a non-profit to be the intermediary between potential donors and recipients, Iran is able to regulate the program. If, for example, a vendor is medically unsuitable the operation can be vetoed.
Though ideally organ donors would be voluntarily lined up for surgery without any incentive aside from altruism this has not been the case in Britain, nor anywhere else. Given the serious nature of organ shortages, a system mirrored after the vendor program may provide much needed relief without utilising the ghastly notion of harvesting organs from the deceased.