The Ethics of Organ Donation

April is National Donate Life Month.

The number of people on donor wait lists is a somber statistic. The United Network for Organ Sharing reports almost 118,000 people nationwide as of April 27, 2017 waiting for a kidney, liver, heart, lung, pancreas, and/or intestine. As they wait, these patients cope day to day with life-limiting and life-ending diseases. Many patients die—an average of 22 patients per day—with their names still on the wait list.

Moved by these hard facts, some individuals have stepped up to donate kidneys and partial livers anonymously. These living donors receive no medical benefit from the procedure and subject themselves to some real risks. Further, their gifts benefit people they do not even know.

Dr. Trevor Reichman explores the ethical issues surrounding the risk and anonymity of living donors in “Anonymous Living Donor Transplantation: Ethical or Medically Reckless?” published in the spring issue of the Ochsner Journal.

Living donation is not a choice many people will make. However, those who want to help have another option. Most transplanted organs come from deceased donors. A simple step anyone can take is to register to become an organ donor with Donate Life America and select Yes to organ donation at driver’s license renewal time.

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