Is it legal to pay organ donors?

When you make a living organ donation, you will not be paid. But the National Living Donor Assistance Center provides assistance to people who cannot afford the expenses they may incur when donating. This is not done to provide an incentive or payment for a donation, but is intended to remove any financial hurdle for people who would like to be donors but do not have the means.

Assistance may include the reimbursement of travel costs and some nonmedical expenses, such as lodging or meals. No assistance is available in cases in which expenses have been covered, or will be covered, by any other state or federal agency, through an insurance policy or by the organ recipient.

The organ recipient is expected to cover compensation of the donor's expenses. However, the program will evaluate financial needs on a case-by-case basis, and in some cases will compensate the donor. In some states, it is also possible to receive a state income tax deduction for lost wages.

Katrina Bramstedt, PhD
Health Education

In the US it is illegal to buy or sell human organs for transplant. If convicted, there are penalties which include fines and imprisonment.

Some foreign countries do permit organ sales, while other countries are not scrupulous about monitoring illegal organ vending. The practice has led to problems with "black markets" and human trafficking, as well as other matters. You can read more about this at

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.