In at least 250 words and using at least one properly listed reference:
2. Several biomedical issues, such as cloning, harvesting embryos, in vitro fertilization, stem cells, and transplants are major health care and research issues. What are some arising ethical dilemmas and developing initiatives to promote patient safety and maintain confidentiality?
2A. What are some ethical dilemmas in selling organs and organ donation?
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There are a number of ethical dilemmas with regard to the issue of organ donation and selling of organs. Let us look at a few.
The biggest ethical issue is one that touches both on organ donation and the selling of organs. This is the issue of who should get the organs that are donated/sold. More people need transplants than there are available organs. This leads us to have to ration the organs that are available. How should we do this? In a market economy, we ration most things on the basis of who can afford them. Should we do this with organs so that the rich will be more likely to get organs than the poor? Should we somehow try to ration them on the basis of who will get more benefit from them? In that case, we would give them to younger people and let older people die. Should we ration them on the basis of who will benefit society more? In that case, we would give them to educated people with good jobs and deny them to people who do menial jobs. Or we might give them to people with happy families and deny them to those who would have no one to mourn them if they died. This is the most important ethical issue connected to these topics.
A second issue is the issue of whether people should be compelled to donate organs. In the US, at least, we have relatively few people signing up to donate organs. This means that many people die with organs that could be donated but are not. Since they are already dead, it seems plausible to say that the government should be able to commandeer the organs that they no longer need. But is this something the government should be allowed to do or is it a grave infringement on human rights?
Finally, should people (and their families) be allowed to sell organs? If we allowed people to sell the organs of their deceased relatives, it seems likely that there would be many more organs made available. Wouldn’t this be a good thing for our society? On the other hand, we can say that this would lead to a situation in which only those who could pay for organs would get them. This refers back to the first ethical issue.
Thus, there are important ethical issues connected to the topics of organ donation and organ sales.
In college I worked on a research paper about kidney transplantation in relation to ethics, the media, and the African American community. Although the African American population in the United states is much smaller in numbers in comparison to the Caucasian population, both compose nearly equal percentages of individuals on the registry for those in need of a kidney. Part of this is because those in the African American community have difficulty finding a donor match as well as asking family members and friends for a donation. The manner in which this particular demographic interacts with healthcare in the U.S. and the degree to which they have access to and education about healthcare makes it far more difficult for them to obtain a transplant.
A rising trend in kidney donation is an "organ transplant chain." Essentially, an individual who would like to donate their kidney to a family member or friend but cannot because they are not a recipient- donor match, can donate to another pair in the same predicament. A number of individuals are able to enter the chain, and many who were unable to secure an organ because they could not find a match are able to find a match this way. However, individuals, such as African American, who have greater difficulty in securing a match cannot participate in this chain in the first place. Altruism paradoxically continues to reinforce limited healthcare access.
The media influences the healthcare limitations placed on certain demographics as well as way that transplantation is portrayed. For example: the doctor who is responsible for maintaining and saving a patient's life is never the person who procures the organ. Organ procurement is executed by an entirely different team within the hospital staff. Furthermore, life and death are kept distinct and separate in that those who procure organs rarely interact with those who surgically transplant the organ into the recipient, even in meetings and professional settings. However, in the dramatic media most stories regarding organ transplantation involve a doctor intentionally killing someone to obtain their organ for a family member or friend, which could never happen in real life. There is evidence that demographics such as African Americans are far more likely to view channels with this kind of media which consequently reinforces previous inclinations and possible distrusts.
This is only a very small part of ethical issues in relation to organ transplantation applied to a single demographic. It is important to make the distinction between what is moral (good vs bad) and what is ethical (regulations concerning how individuals and groups of individuals interact with each other) as well. What is an interesting paradox is that a seemingly ethical method of donation, organ donation chains, in fact does little for those with the greatest need and least degree a accessibility.
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