Sunday, December 23, 2007

Become and Organ Donor!

Sparked by a new book-

Is organ donation ethical/moral?

-Consider the link, but also, is it ethical and/or moral to move someone up the list based on societal status or profession, or celebrity status?
- What about using organs from accident victims, or from those in a brain dead state or persistent coma?

-There is also an issue of organ theft (i only bring this up because I'm in New Orleans right now, and its becoming a major problem); someone is sedated/kidnapped and an organ removal is performed without consent usually without a sterile environment. Any thoughts on this?

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Dealing with the easy one first, of course organ theft is wrong. Logically, they didn't consent to have their body violated, therefore it shouldn't happen. As far as I'm concerned, it's right up there with rape. If you consider the motives, people who commit those crimes aren't doing it for the sake of saving people in need of organ transplants. It's for money. Wrong reason, going about it in an unethical way, therefore it is unethical. Really it seems like a horrible mixture of robbery and rape. With surgery.

With regard to your first questions, I say if people give consent for organ removal in the stated situations as part of their will or whatever, not only is it ethical to do so, but it is also a moral decision on their part. Regarding the comatose, I am not sure. As anyone seen Just Like Heaven? I know it's fiction, but it does raise the issue of waking up after a coma versus pulling the plug. I don't have enough experience in the area to justify terminating persistently comatose people to get at their organs. I would want to be sure that their is definitely no need of the organs in question for the original owner. If there is no chance of regaining a quality life (brain dead), or if they are dead in an accident, there are people out there who need those same no longer functioning organs. This relies heavily on religion based knowledge: I do not believe a person requires an intact body to be reincarnated or recycled or whatever. I don't think a body is of any importance for the dead, but it can be to the living. Instead of just being something for people to cry over, I would much rather help them to continue to live. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that there aren't enough organs to go around, meaning that they are highly expensive, and the waiting lists can be extremely competitive, as you mentioned. I suppose they are trying to determine the most valuable attributes to society - who most deserves to live? Of course this is impossible to decide, as we are only human. Therefore, the waiting list guidelines and restrictions are bound to be based on generalizations, stereotypes, and assumptions. That is not fair. Assuming that some individuals are more valuable to society than others, is it the organ transplanters' responsibility to determine who they are, and give them first priority. With society in mind, that is logical. But ethically, it seems wrong to put people at a disadvantage simply because they do not fit the general definition of successful. That doesn't mean they aren't loved and don't make some contribution. There seems to me to be no fair way to choose who gets their organ and who doesn't (and dies). The question is, is it better to be undiscriminatory and give everyone an equal playing field, or to target those who fit the qualifications for being most valuable? If people find the former to be true, the only solution is to become an organ donor yourself when the time comes, because a larger bank of organs means more recipients. I suppose it should also be motivation to take care of yourself in life, so that in death, something is salvageable.