Friday, February 3, 2012

The only easy decision about organ donation is registering as a donor

Philidelphia Inquirer

No doubt the recent news of Amelia Rivera—a 3-year-old girl with Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome whose family is hoping to get on the list for a kidney transplant—is an emotional story. Our hearts can’t help but go out the Rivera family. But should emotion be the key arbiter of decisions regarding organ donation?

At this very moment there are 72,395 people in the United States waiting for organs, but only 11,713 donors. In simplest of terms, organ donation is a textbook case of supply not being able to meet demand. The simplicity, however, stops there.

Decisions regarding who gets human organs and tissue are literally matters of life or death; and countries the world over struggle with complex ethical dilemmas regarding who lives and who dies. In “The Prostitute, the Playboy, and the Poet,” bioethicists George Annas describes a few approaches to making such decisions — none of which are perfect.

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