Organ transplantation involves a complex series of medical and moral issues. How is eligibility determined? Will the donor organ be rejected by the recipient’s body? What occurs if the organ is rejected? Furthermore, what are issues that some families face when it comes to donating their loved one’s organs?
Medical and Moral Issues
Organ transplantation is a very complex subject, involving both scientific and moral issues. Organ transplants can save lives, but it also poses ethical issues for caregivers and families alike. The basic concept for transplanting organs is that a person with a failing organ can find a donor organ, either from their family or off a registry, and have surgery to replace the failing organ with a “new” donor organ.
The first successful organ transplant occurred in 1954. Richard Herrick was able to receive a kidney from his identical twin, Robert (Donate Life NY). This transplant made headlines and history as it was the first successful surgery of its kind. It also opened the door for research leading to the ability to transplant organs from deceased donors, allowing hundreds of thousands of people to receive life-saving surgeries (infoplease). Even though there are thousands of people getting donated organ every year, there are still well over 100,000 people waiting for an organ, and each day 18 people will die waiting. However, just one donor could donate up to eight organs, potentially saving the lives of eight different people (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
But how do the organs go from the donor to the recipient? First and foremost, the potential recipient is placed on a national registry. Each time an organ becomes available, the computer generates a list of potential recipients based on criteria like blood type, how urgently a patient needs the organ, and distance between the donor and recipient; each organ has its own specific criteria. The program does...