The Organ Shortage: Scarcity of Organ Donors Relative to the Number of Potential Recipients

Heart: An Organ

          It seems there is nothing to question about the ethics of transplanting organs. Apparently, thousands of people were given chance to continue their existence through the selfless altruism of other philanthropic person who are willing to give a part of their body. Those are people who chose to find hope in the middle of catastrophe. As a matter of fact, organ transplantation becomes the greatest achievement of modern surgery.

                Honestly, if we scrutinize this particular matter, right under the surface lurks a morass of ethical dilemmas and controversies which have threatened to undermine the entire practice of transplanting organs. The main issue in donating organs is the scarcity of organ donors relative to the number of potential recipients on organ donation waiting lists.

Make More Miracle

         Just like our resources, transplantable organs are scarce. There is larger number of recipients than the number of donors. The reason why 5,000 human being in the waiting lists die every year before receiving their suitable organ for survival. Actually, according to researches, an average of 106 people in each nation is added to organ transplantation waiting list each day. However, only an average of 68 people receive their suitable organ from a living or deceased donor. A total of 17 patients die every day while waiting for their organ to arrive.

           Yes, people do die upon waiting for their desired organ. The reason why these various ethical questions arise:

  1. Should someone who has received one organ transplant be given a second transplant? Or should people who have not had transplant be given priority over those who have already one?

    • This question makes a lot of sense. That is to say, why don’t we prioritize those people who are their first time undergoing organ transplantation? On the other hand, those people wanted to continue their life which is their right.
  2. Should people whose lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking, drug use, obesity, etc. damaged their organ be given a chance at an organ transplant?

    • For instance, an alcoholic person, should they be denied new livers because they “deserve” what has happened to them? What if these people asked for repentance and wanted to survive to make a huge difference in their life.
  3. Should suicidal individuals be given an organ transplant? What if they attempted suicide in the pat but are not currently contemplating suicide?

    • People question these suicidal human beings like why should they be given a chance to survive if they attempted to lose their lives. But what if they wanted to change also?
  4. Should people who have young children be given an organ transplant over a single person? Over an elderly person? Should age and whether or not a person has children even matter?

    • We ask if children be given a chance to survive longer that’s why we have to prioritize younger than old human beings.
  5. Should people who can’t afford expensive anti-rejection drugs be passed over for a transplant? Should people who don’t have insurance and can’t pay for a transplant be allowed to go on the national waiting list?

    • Mostly, these procedures only applies to people that are rich, powerful and has lots of insurances. But should the choice of who gets new organs also depend upon social worth?
  6. Should condemned prisoners receive organ transplants? What if they are serving a life sentence without parole?

    • They say these prisoners will also die somehow that’s why they shouldn’t be given a chance for organ transplantation. But what if they wanted to extend their existence to make a change also?

Donor Card

          Out of these debatable questions, we may choose one over the other. The chief problem is how we fairly divide the organs for those who need it. That is why they made two contradicting ways of distributing organs. The first is the equal access which has the criteria of:

  • Length of time waiting (First come, first serve basis)

  • Age (youngest to oldest)

         Those who are in support of this criteria says that because the medical procedure in organ transplantation is worthy, everyone should access it equally. The second one is the maximum benefit. Its goal is to maximize the number of successful transplants. Criteria for this are:

  • Medical need (The sickest people are given the first opportunity for a transplantable organ)

  • Probable success of a transplant (i.e. giving organs to the person who will be most likely to live the longest)

          The supporters of this criterion defend that the organs should be given to those who need it the most so that these donated organs will not go to waste.

       These two criteria are debatable and very opposing. That’s why United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) encourages transplant centers to consider the following criteria for distributing organs:

     1) Medical need

     2) Probability of success

     3) Time on the waiting list

     Those who are in verge of death desperately needs to undergo organ transplantation. Their only focus is to survive. We should point out that, those dying patients continue to receive aggressive, curative treatment when they should be receiving more caring and holistic treatment.

Donate Life

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