The Ethical Impacts of Organ Transplants

Author: Dalin Try

Editors: Vincent Chang and Peggy Yang

Artist: Serena Yung

There have been numerous attempts of organ transplants over the centuries; however, it wasn’t until 1954 when Dr. Joseph E. Murray in Massachusetts performed the first successful kidney transplant. Many factors are needed for a successful transplant such as the type of organ needed and the previous history of the organ donor to ensure that there won’t be any complications that could occur. These breakthroughs have led to numerous advancements in the medical fields, saving millions of lives. However, with these advances comes the many ethical issues surrounding organ transplants.

A black market of organ donations has been formed to meet the increasing demand for transplants. Some organ donations occur with deceased donors that have given consent to the organ donation when they were alive. However, this long technical process and the amount of patients on the waiting list, this has caused many patients to resort to other ways instead. For patients that need a specific organ, it could take several years before they can go through with the organ transplant.

Furthermore, the cost of an organ transplant is expensive due to the requirements that the organs need to meet before successfully starting the transplant. This has led to desperation from the patient's family to rely on illegal means such as sourcing the organ donations from organ traffickers. Organ trafficking is done by coercing vulnerable and desperate people who require money; this often occurs in developing countries. Also, many organ traffickers have resorted to kidnapping victims. Multiple organ harvesting schemes are occurring all over the world, harming many in the way. This raises many moral issues as an organ transplant hurts someone to save another person’s life. Some organ donations happen when the family of the donor decides to take a donor off life support, choosing to donate the organs to save another life.

Even though there are organ donors that willingly donate their organs to save other people's lives after they pass away, there are still many implications on the patients as well. For example, a patient might have successfully undergone an organ transplant only for the patient’s body to reject the organ due to complications. This leads to emotional stress for both the family and patient; the patient might feel like it is their fault that the problem occurs when it is not.

To conclude, organ transplants and donations may save lives but it also brings in many ethical implications to the donors and patients. Because many would take advantage of the vulnerable to obtain organs, people need to understand the ethical implications that lie behind organ transplants.

Citation:

Caulfield, Timothy, et al. “Trafficking in Human Beings for the Purpose of Organ Removal

and the Ethical and Legal Obligations of Healthcare Providers.” Transplantation Direct, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 4 Jan. 2016,

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4946496/.

McKirdy, Euan. Delhi Hospital Kidney Scam: RINGLEADER NABBED. 9 June 2016,

edition.cnn.com/2016/06/09/asia/india-delhi-hospital-kidney-racket/index.html.

“Read ‘Organ Donation: Opportunities for Action’ at NAP.edu.” National Academies Press:

OpenBook, www.nap.edu/read/11643/chapter/11.

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