Opt-In or Opt-Out?

5 Dec

How are the issues of organs and ethics relevant now? As the disparity between needed transplants and available donors continues to widen, governments around the world are beginning to re-think policies regarding consent to donate. Take a look at our prezi to gain a better understanding of the facts, problems, and normative issues relevant to the public policy debate regarding organ donation. Opt-In or Opt-Out? What do you think?


And now for the pathos…

9 Nov

In true ASPCA fashion, enjoy this heart wrenching clip.


How much would YOU pay for a kidney?

8 Nov

Recent debate regarding organ donation has revolved around public policy issues of an “opt-in” versus “opt-out” program for donation. However, there’s a third option that many disregard as unethical or condemn in complete horror: an organ market. Instantly, the mention of an organ market conjures thoughts of organs being harvested against ones will in a commotion similar to a scene in Saw, or, even more tragically, rich transplant recipients paying poor citizens in third world countries a few bucks for a kidney. While unwanted organ harvesting is quite rare (though it does occur), the black market for organs is not. Just recently, a New Jersey man was found guilty of trafficking black market kidneys for as much as $160,000 dollars! Would you be willing to pay this much if you were in need of a transplant? Better yet, would you willingly sell your kidney for this price?

It is questions like these that cause people to question the morality and justice of an organ market. However, before you completely write off the feasibility of a market, take a glance at this excerpt from The Kenan Institute’s “Good Question” Series, which asks the question boggling the morals of many: Should there be a market in human organs? Kieran Healy, a Sociology Professor at Duke. addresses the question by explaining the possible ways in which a lawful organ market can actually function in our society.

Clarifying religion…

2 Nov

One common misconception or myth about organ donation is that there are various conflicts with one’s religion.  I believe that religion is a personal choice, and that religion often plays a part in ethical matters.  However, I am not here to discuss the ethics of religion as a whole, but solely organ donation.  To address the myth that organ donation goes against one’s religion I simply pose this website for you to ponderwhich briefly highlights some major religious sects and their views of organ donation.

For a more practical application of religion influencing organ donation, here is a woman who VOLUNTARILY donated a kidney out of sheer altruism to a random stranger.  It should also be noted that she relied heavily on God’s grace and guidance to both make and execute her decision…

Pondering Policy…

2 Nov

Alright, alright, alright, so…. we know we have a problem.  There are clearly not enough organ donors in the U.S. to  accommodate the number of people that need organ transplants.  So, what do we do and what are the ethical implications?

Well, we should probably start off with what is being done right now.  Right not in the U.S., we have an “opt-in” program for organ donation meaning that people have to choose whether they want to donate their organs.  For all of you old farts out there, I’m not sure if you remember, but on your DMV Driver’s License application you PROBABLY had a question somewhat akin to… “check this box if you want to become an organ donor”.  Basically, you won’t become an organ donor if you don’t make a conscious decision to.

So its obvious that people would probably make the conscious choice to save a life.. Right?  According to one source nearly 85% of people in just the state of Pennsylvania support the idea of organ donation. This brings up the HUGE question as to why there is such a shortage if most people support it.

Well maybe, just maybe, we could change the policy of organ donation in this country to encourage more people to donate without actually making them do more thinking?  In this article, one New York legislator suggests that the U.S. become an “opt-out” system whereby the citizens are automatically considered for organ donation unless they choose to refrain from being such.  This system is a bit radical, however, what if the simple solution were to reword the questions posed on drivers license applications.

If citizens were asked “check the box below if you do not want to be an organ donor,” as opposed to “check the box below to become and organ donor,” how would the organ donor level fluctuate?  Now citizens aren’t required to think about all of the possible negative consequences of becoming an organ donor.  In all seriousness, humans are a pretty lazy species, and any excuse to think less would probably help out our cause…

So could this be the solution?  What do you think?

Is this real life?

2 Nov

This post is merely a query of my own creation.  I mentioned to a friend the other day that I was doing a case study on organ donation for one of my classes.  She remarked that she, in fact, was not an organ donor.  I asked why, curious as to why she would not want to save another life is she possibly could.  To me the choice has always been obvious: if I were to die for some reason, but had usable organs, why not help out a fellow man.  Her reasoning was that she felt doctors wouldn’t try as hard to save her if she were an organ donor.

To this I pose a thought experiment.  Say you were the doctor performing surgery.  You find out that the patient you are operating on is an organ donor.  I question what sort of idea of justice would justify letting the person you are currently operating on die in favor of someone else.  In the famous thought experiment regarding diverting a train to hit 1 person rather than  5 people on the regular track, there is a more complex issue regarding the sheer amount of death and the greater good.  However, if the situation were in that of a surgery, a life for a life would seemingly be equal and therefore there should be no reason for the doctor to favor one patient over another.  Now, there may be a number of outside factors such as whether the doctor knows the patient needing an organ donation, but those circumstantial cases should not be looked at as a legitimate reason to deny someone the potential for life.

Duke is AMAZING… but….

25 Oct

Well, I should first say that Heather and I both go to Duke.  In fact, this blog is for a class at Duke!  So, it makes sense that we are QUITE biased about how awesome we think Duke is.  However, here is a story about one time that Duke kind of messed up…

This story doesn’t really examine the ethical implications of organ donation, but it does bring into question the possibilities that can be brought up from this situation.  If this girl had more possible donors, the situation shouldn’t be as dire as it was.  Here brings up the question as to whether more donors would actually help this girl or not.  The situation is not explicitly geared towards ethical investigation, but it does bring to light the need and importance of this issue.

I realize this picture is terribly blasphemous, but  I think it gets the point across…


The picture comes from here:



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