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Scand J Public Health. 2011 Mar;39(2):156-63. doi: 10.1177/1403494810391522. Epub 2011 Jan 14.

Incentivizing deceased organ donation: a Swedish priority-setting perspective.

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Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.



The established deceased organ donation models in many countries, relying chiefly on altruism, have failed to motivate a sufficient number of donors. As a consequence organs that could save lives are routinely missed leading to a growing gap between demand and supply. The aim of this paper is twofold; firstly to develop a proposal for compensated deceased organ donation that could potentially address the organ shortage; secondly to examine the compatibility of the proposal with the ethical values of the Swedish healthcare system.


The proposal for compensating deceased donation is grounded in behavioural agency theory and combines extrinsic, intrinsic and signalling incentives in order to increase prosocial behaviour. Furthermore the compatibility of our proposal with the values of the Swedish healthcare system is evaluated in reference to the principles of human dignity, needs and solidarity, and cost effectiveness.


Extrinsic incentives in the form of a 5,000 compensation towards funeral expenses paid to the estate of the deceased or family is proposed. Intrinsic and signalling incentives are incorporated by allowing all or part of the compensation to be diverted as a donation to a reputable charity. The decision for organ donation must not be against the explicit will of the donor.


We find that our proposal for compensated deceased donation is compatible with the values of the Swedish healthcare system, and therefore merits serious consideration. It is however important to acknowledge issues relating to coercion, commodification and loss of public trust and the ethical challenges that they might pose.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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