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What ethical issues confronted transplant doctors?

Doctors faced many ethical issues regarding organ transplants. They were concerned about potential health risks to the person providing the organ. They did not know how the donor's health would be affected.
They wondered if it were medically ethical to perform an operation on a donor that, at best, did not serve a medical purpose for him, and at worst, could harm or kill an otherwise healthy person.
Doctors were not sure whether it would be acceptable to risk harming the donor if, in doing so, it would save the life of someone else. 
After consulting with a wide range of fellow doctors, attorneys and clergy members representing numerous denominations, the doctors decided the possible greater good that could occur through an organ donation outweighed the relatively low risk of extracting it.
Katrina Bramstedt, PhD
Health Education

In the 21st century, many ethical issues confront transplant doctors. Because there are not enough organs available for transplant each year, there is a lengthy waiting list of people needing transplant. Sometimes these people get so desperate, they travel to foreign countries and buy organs from "living vendors" -- this is unethical (and illegal in the US). When these patients return to the US, their doctors often have moral distress about what transpired and feel morally conflicted about taking care of a patient who purchased an organ.

Another ethical issue is a problem facing many living organ donors in the US -- they lack health insurance. While their organ donor surgery and immediate medical costs are paid for by the organ recipient's health insurance, if the uninsured donor has a late or lengthy complication they may have no ability to get medical care. Complications are generally covered by the recipient's health insurance policy for only a very limited period of time (e.g., 3-6 months).

These are two very serious ethical issues, but there are many more. (See www.TransplantEthics.com for details).

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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.