Who Should receive a Transplant Organ?

numsMy father-in-law received a liver transplant over 10 years ago.  He was fortunate.  Not just because he was generally asymptomatic and never felt like a person who was in liver failure, but also because he actually received one.  I often think about this life changing event in his life because I was pregnant with my first child when he went into surgery.  In fact, one of my favorite pictures is one where me and my husband are standing next to my father-in-law post-surgery.  I have a ginormous belly leaning into his gurney, and he has his hospital gown open to display the huge “Y” incision across his abdominal area.  It reminds me of how precious life is.

There are so many ethical questions surrounding the transplant list.  I used to work at the Public Health Library at the School of Public Health which has since been incorporated into the Taubman Health Sciences Library, and  Dr. Myron Wegman, Dean Emeritus, used to “pop” in regularly so that we could help him make changes to his family website.  He told me that he had received a heart transplant in his 70′s and had posed the ethical questions to the medical students that he taught about giving a 70 year old man another heart.  Dr. Wegman, at the time I knew him, was in his late 80′s and swam everyday at the NCRB.  He died in 2004 at the age of 95.  In my lifetime, I could never accomplish what he had done in one year of his life…

So this NPR story on Who Should Be First In Line To Receive A Transplant Organ? is one to really think about…

Who Should Be First In Line To Receive A Transplant Organ?

by SHANNON HEFFERNEN
September 04, 2013

Organ transplants have become a viable option for a growing number of patients. That has brought increased attention to legal, medical and ethical questions about who should be first in line for organs. Undocumented immigrants and others say they are left off waiting list due to lack of funds and inability to access government health care programs…

Read the full transcript here.

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