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Organ Transplants Issues, Research Paper Example

Pages: 2

Words: 616

Research Paper

Organ transplants represent the only solution for many patients dealing with chronic illnesses. However, the ethics of the surgical operation have been the subject of a long debate in the past few decades. The main question from the ethical perspective is whether the interest of the patient whose life is going to be saved is above any other considerations. While these operations can undoubtedly save thousands of lives each day, the regulation of the transplantation process, obtaining the organs and gaining authorization. The main source of ethical dilemmas, according to the Center of Bioethics (2004) is a result of the shortage of organs.

The Problem

The shortage of organs and the high number of people waiting for them creates a conflict of interest. There are a few ethical dilemmas that arise from this lack of balance between demand and available organs. Some medical firms might be offering financial or other incentives for people to obtain organs, while medical tourism can also create an unregulated “black market” which would then provide criminals with a way of earning money from connecting “rich patients” with “poor donors”.

Ethical Dilemma

The main ethical dilemma of organ transplants is determining the criteria that the selection of receiving patients would be based on. If patients are made to pay for the organs this would mean that not all people would get the same health services and the poor would be disadvantaged compared to the rich. This means that not all people would have equal chances to be healthy.

Ethical Theories

The distributive justice theory states that there are many ways of justifying the selection of organ receivers. The list of the criteria below has been taken from the publication of the Center of Bioethics (2002, p. 15.) These are: equal share, need, effort, contribution, merit, free-market exchanges. The most ethical criteria is equal access to all. This is, however, a very idealistic view and can hardly be put into practice. The equal access criteria would give preference to those who have been waiting for longest and the young would have priority over the old. Another approach is the “medical worthiness” criteria, which suggests that those who made lifestyle choices which affected their health in a negative way would be moved down on the waiting list.

The latter approach is based on Ross’ theory (1930) which states that there are no unconditional duties in ethics. This reflected on the question of organ transplants means that when conflict of duty arises in morally complex situations, these need to be individually examined. The approaches detailed above related to the selection of organ receivers also call for the review of the Act Utilitarianism, (Lyons, 1965) which states that the costs and benefits need to be weighed. Therefore, measuring which action (choice of patient) would produce the greatest benefit for those affected by the decision. (Mizzoni, 2009)

Conclusion- Should Organ Transplants be Allowed and Regulatory Questions

Organ transplants are useful for the society, therefore, should be allowed. However, to achieve maximum benefit, in line with the  Act Utilitarianism theory and also the “maximum benefit distribution” philosophy in medical ethics. (Center of Bioethics, 2002, p. 15) The measurement of probable success, life years gained and medical need is a workable approach, however, the regulation of organ transplant needs to meet the guidelines in the future for two different reasons; to get the maximum benefit out of every organ, as they are scarce and to provide a fair distribution in the society preventing black market trade.

References

Ethics of Organ Transplantation. (2004) Center for Bioethics. Online. <http://www.ahc.umn.edu/img/assets/26104/Organ_Transplantation.pdf >

Mizzoni, J. (2009). Ethics: The Basics. London: John Wiley.

Lyons, D. (1965) Forms and Limits of Utilitarianism. Oxford: Clarendon Press

Ross, W. D. (1930)  The Right and the Good. Reprint. 2002. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

 

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