Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Transplant ethics

Two stories reflect different aspects of current debates about transplantation, and who are appropriate recipients, and donors.

Transplant tourism poses ethical dilemma for US doctors

"In the current case, a 46-year-old Chinese accountant (HQ) was placed on the UNOS transplant registry with a Model for End Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score of 18 that increased to 21 while on the candidate waitlist for over a year (MELD scores range from 6 for those least ill through 40 for those most sick). HQ then traveled to the People's Republic of China (PRC) and was transplanted two weeks after arrival. After transplantation, HQ returned to the Mount Sinai program requesting follow-up care, which was provided. HQ then developed biliary sepsis requiring hospitalization and re-transplantation seemed to be the only viable option.

"While the patient was a medically suitable candidate, team members disagreed if it were indeed, morally right to provide him with a transplant," said Thomas Schiano, M.D., one of the case clinicians and lead author of this study. Ultimately, the transplant team proceeded with a liver transplant for HQ and he is currently doing well. "Our consensus to transplant was based on the relevant principles of medical ethics—non-judgmental regard, beneficence, and fiduciary responsibility," added Dr. Schiano. " (emphasis added)

"The Dilemma and Reality of Transplant Tourism: An Ethical Perspective for Liver Transplant Programs." Thomas D. Schiano, Rosamond Rhodes. Liver Transplantation; Published Online: January 26, 2010 (DOI: 10.1002/lt.21967); Print Issue Date: February 2010.

Project to get transplant organs from ER patients raises ethics questions
"The practice could backfire by making an already skeptical public less likely to designate themselves as organ donors, several experts said. "

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