Monday, March 03, 2008

Should Americans be allowed to buy and sell transplant organs?

Another story on organ transplantation ethics, this time from a policy perspective. The libertarian Cato Institute recently hosted a policy summit on the issue of payment for transplant organs. While current US policy prohibits payment for human organs for transplant, based on concerns that poor and vulnerable people would likely be exploited by those who could afford "replacement parts," some argue that it's wrong and unduly paternalistic to stop people from selling their organs. Layer in the substantial shortfall in donor organs and the number of people who die waiting for a suitable transplant organ to become available, and you've got a complicated policy question.

Featured in the panel discussion are (from the Cato Institute website): Arthur Matas, Professor of Surgery; Director, Kidney Transplant Program, University of Minnesota, Immediate Past President, American Society of Transplant Surgeons; Francis Delmonico, Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School, Medical Director, The Transplantation Society; World Health Organization; Benjamin Hippen, Transplant Nephrologist, Carolinas Medical Center, At-Large Member of the United Network for Organ Sharing Ethics Committee; and Samuel Crowe, Senior Policy Analyst, The President's Council on Bioethics. You can check out the podcast here.

Photo credit: Aldenbrooke's Hospital Transplant Unit, NHS

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