Media release: Stronger organ donor compensation can save lives and money

25 August, 2015

Wellington (25 August 2015): Improving compensation for live organ donors is a rare opportunity to save both lives and healthcare dollars, according to a report released today by The New Zealand Initiative.  

Author Elizabeth Prasad found that every transplant provides recipients with longer and better lives, while being much cheaper than dialysis – saving the government money over the longer term.  

An indicative case of a 50-year-old male on dialysis who receives a transplant would live for eight additional years, and enjoy an improved quality of life. In this example, the Ministry of Health would save more than $120,000 by providing a transplant. Benefits are even greater for younger recipients as they avoid more years of dialysis.  

Many potential donors cannot afford time off work to assist a loved one. Currently, financial support for donors ranges from $140 to $350 per week for 12 weeks, depending on age and marital status. The average weekly wage in 2014 was $991.  

Dr Eric Crampton, Head of Research at The New Zealand Initiative, said that this issue was a case where an improved health policy brought about a win-win – the health of the recipient improved, as did the outcome for the funder.  

“Usually policy is about trade-offs. When the government provides a favourable new scheme, it’s either at the expense of another policy, or taxpayers’ wallets.  

“In this case, the government can do well by doing good. Compensating live organ donors fully for lost earnings is a fantastic bargain if it allows more people to provide that gift.”

National MP Chris Bishop’s Member’s Bill providing enhanced donor compensation was recently drawn from the ballot, with the first reading vote occurring tomorrow (Wednesday) night.    

Elizabeth Prasad began her research on the economics of organ donation as an Honours student in Economics at the University of Canterbury and built on it as her Master’s thesis under the supervision of Professor Bob Reed and Dr Eric Crampton.  

Click here to download the report.

Click here for an infographic, available freely for publication and distribution.


Dr Eric Crampton is available for comment.


About The New Zealand Initiative

The New Zealand Initiative is an evidence-based think tank and research institute, which is supported by a membership organisation that counts some of the country’s leading visionaries, business leaders and political thinkers among its ranks.    

Our members are committed to developing policies to make New Zealand a better country for all its citizens. We believe all New Zealanders deserve a world-class education system, affordable housing, a healthy environment, sound public finances and a stable currency.    

The New Zealand Initiative pursues this goal by participating in public life, and making a contribution to public discussions.  

For more information visit

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