- Education and Science
Ethical Aspects of Transplantology
Transplantology is the process or science of transferring human tissues, cells or organs from one body (donor) to another (recipient) with an aim of restoring the functions of those parts. In many cases, organ transplant happens to be the sole treatment for end-state organ failure including heart failure, liver or kidney. Despite the fact that patients suffering from end-stage renal disease can be treated using alternative renal replacement therapies, it is generally accepted that kidney transplant is both cost-effective, and enhances the quality of life patients (WHO, 2017).
The procurement of organs for the purpose of transportation entails removal of specific body parts from the bodies of living or deceased persons. Accordingly, this removal is expected to adhere to stipulated legal requirements including consent, definition of death among others. On the other hand, organ donation by living donors involves negligible risks. These can only be prevented through a scrupulous selection process, chary, surgical nephrectomy, and donor follow-up to ensure that unforeseen consequences are optimally managed. This hub looks into key ethical issues doctors face in organ transplant processes.
Despite its necessity in medical therapy, transplant doctors face many ethical issues while endeavoring to save lives through organ transplant. The number of people requiring organ transplant are many, owing to the fact that very few organs are available for this process. At times, some of these people become desperate and travel to black markets where they can buy organs from live organ sellers. This is not only illegal in many countries, but also unethical. When these patients come back, their doctors have to deal with questions about the source of the organ and do not know how to deal with a patient who acquired an organ from an unknown source. Therefore, doctors have to ponder on whether to take care of the patient or involve themselves in finding out about the source of the organ (Heather, 2003).
Another ethical concern transplant doctors face in their practice is the possible health risks facing the organ donor. They are not fully aware of the potential health implications of their actions towards the organ provider. For these professionals, they have to wonder the morality of performing an operation on an otherwise a health person alongside the realization that such an operation has a likehood of harming or killing the person. Doctors are not sure whether it is acceptable to forego the risks of causing harm or even killing the donor just for the purpose of saving someone else. This can therefore, only be done after a lengthy deliberation by key stakeholders who involves the patient, the donor, fellow doctors, and attorneys (Price, 2000).
While this hub has discussed two ethical issues encountered by doctors in transplantology, there are a myriad of them which need to be considered by these professionals when undertaking the process. In this regard, it is the responsibility of doctors to ensure that all ethical issues including acquisition of consent, ascertaining the source of the donation as well as application of the best professional practice in organ transplant. Despite potential risks for donors, organ transplant cannot be done away with, since there is a greater good achieved compared to the relatively low risk of obtaining it.