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Ethics of Organ Donation and Transplantation - Essay Example

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The issue of organ donation and organ transplantation has become a crucial issue in today's society. Statistics show that as of this month, there are 88,565 patients waiting for an organ donor in the United States alone (See Appendix). It is undeniable that there is a substantive shortage of organs for transplant…
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Ethics of Organ Donation and Transplantation
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Download file to see previous pages The breadth of approaches and programs proposed, however, directs toward a whole new set of issues and problems that must be resolved in the midst of this shortage - the ethical uprightness of the approach with regard to the rights of the donor against the obligation to save the life of a recipient. The ethical dimension at the core of organ donation and transplantation has become a critical issue that must be considered due to the possibility of violating the rights of a donor, short of exploiting him in some cases, in the process. Organ donation and transplantation, is therefore an issue that cannot be ignored. It compels us to explore all possibilities that could be done to solve the problem of organ shortage; while at the same time, it beseeches us to give consideration to the rights of the donor and ensure that he is not exploited in the process. In addition to the issues regarding procurement, it also directs us to examine the manner that these organs are distributed. It begs us to ask the question of whether the policies surrounding distribution provides a criteria that places all candidates in an equal position of receiving organs. Thus, as this paper will argue, there is a deficiency in the policies and programs employed to increase organ donation because it neither significantly increased the rate of organ donation nor did it succeed in protecting the rights of donors.

Organ Donation and Transplantation Defined
Organ donation, defined as a high technology medicine that is used to intervene at the end stage of an illness, unlike other medical technologies, is considered to be an altruistic process because it requires the "gift" of organs from others to proceed (Prottas, 1995). Organs that can be donated and successfully transplanted today include the kidneys, lungs, pancreas, liver, heart, and intestines.
During the early stages of organ transplantation, the criterion was that potential donors must be brain dead. Known as cadaveric organ donation, the criteria for such was defined by Harvard Medical School in 1968 as the "irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brainstem" (Sullivan, Seem, & Chabalewski, 1999). In this form of donation, organs are donated from the recently deceased. Until recently, this has been the preferred criterion for determining organ donor status. However, due the pressing organ shortage, physicians have developed new protocols in declaring death for cadaveric donations. According to Alexander Capron (2001), cardiac death has been considered as a means to qualify patients as donors. In this method, known as non-heart beating transplantation, death is pronounced through the cardiopulmonary criteria.
In contrast to cadaveric donation, living organ donation seeks living organ donors to provide an organ or part of an organ to another person. Unlike cadaveric donation, this form of organ donation is more complicated because it involves, not only ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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