Friday, February 09, 2007

Kidney Organ Donor List

A new proposal is suggesting that the criteria to determine who gets an kidney transplant be changed. Basically, the idea is that people waiting on donations should be prioritized based on the length of life expectancy after the transplant. Currently, the prioritization is based on who gets on the donor waiting list first.

On one level it seems like a good idea. A study that went along with the recommendation suggests that patients awaiting a transplant in the U.S. would live a combined 11,457 years longer under the proposed rules.

Of course the "playing God" accusation comes out from the critics of the change. I counter simply that performing the transplant, any transplant, is also "playing God." But there is certainly a moral quandry here. We are setting criteria that says one life is worth more than another.

In this proposal the criteria seems to be fairly objective: number of years of expected life. But once we start setting a criteria instead of treating everyone equally subjective values may start to come into play. Is the 5 years of expected life of a married janitor with two kids worth more or less than the 10 years of expected life of a single investment banker? If the investment banker was the sole care provider for a 95 year old parent does that change the answer?


I don't know either. This is one of the problems / complaints that developed out of the gov't compensation from the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Everyone killed was given a "base value" but then subjective criteria were applied to determine if additional compensation was deserved.

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