An ethical question: who deserves the heart?


Once upon a time when I was in college, I took an ethics class. I absolutely LOVED it because with ethics, there really is no right or wrong answer. It forces you to look at both sides of any situation, and as long as you have enough information to back up which side you’re on, then it’s a win-win situation; assuming that it’s a fictional situation (of course). This class also taught me how to debate. I’m still not very good when it comes to a live and active debate, but who’s kidding who here? There are two sides to every debate; there’s the right side, and there’s the ethical side. 

Let me give you an example: we actually debated one just like this in class and it reminds me of an article that I found online yesterday. This debate took three classes, but if it were a real life situation… well, I pity the loosing party. 

There is a man in his mid 40’s who is in liver failure due to excess drinking. His life expectancy is less than two weeks and he is officially on a ventilator to preserve his other organs. He is an organ doner. He has requested a DNR (do not recessitate) and he has made a mends with his friends and family. He is divorced and never remarried. He is ready to “die” and move forward in his remaingvdays days. 

There is a waiting list a mile long for this man’s organs. His heart (which is healthy), in particular, and the two top candidates are: a 31 year old convicted felan who has 10 more years to complete his sentence, but with this man’s unsavory past, and recent evidence that has recently surfaced, this man could be looking at a life sentence. Luckily, a surprise witness has turned up, and this person’s statement could DRASTICALLY reduce this mans sentence. If the witness doesn’t come through, this man will spend the rest of his life in prison behind bars. 

The other candidate is a sixty seven year old woman who is a diabetic and has a Lupus diagnosis, BUT more tests are still being conducted to rule out another diagnoses. Lupus is not deadly, but this woman’s body has a habit of rejecting important medications that will help her to continue in her day-to-day life. It is possible that this woman’s body could reject the heart. She is a widow, but has a family who is active and supports her life, and who love her. 

Both candidates have the correct blood types, and circumstances to move forward. So, who deserves the healthy heart?

This debate could go either way. In general, not too many people want to root for the convict, but since he’s healthy, the heart could benefit him the most, because he could turn his life around and live productively for many many more years to come (if he so chooses). Fingers crossed that the “surprise witness” comes through for him and helps to change his outcome. 

Most people want to root for the 67 year old woman, because she’s “good” and not a convict. She has many more years ahead of her if she gets the heart, but with a Lupus diagnosis looming, that could ruin her chances. The doctors continue testing to rule Lupus out, but since she will be on medication for the rest of her life, so her body does not reject the organ, it could be a very risky surgery. 

In the end, we voted (as a class) for the convict. He is strong, healthy, and has his whole life ahead of him. We as a class would hope that he’ll turn his life around and that his heart will make him realize how precious life truly is. 

The old woma’s body could easily reject the heart, but her Lupus diagnosis makes things a bit more complicated. And since she has other diagnoses looming, she can be put on other medications to help sustain her life for many more years to come. 

This debate happened fifteen years ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. Now, a 23 year old man with Autism needs a heart transplant, and has been rejected, simply because he has Autism and the doctors are unsure of how his brain will react to steroids and other complex situations that go along with this surgery. This is an incredibly serious and ethical question/matter. So why is this man’s Autism diagnosis even a factor? If this was my child, you better believe that I wouldn’t keep quiet over this one. So, please read the article below and tell me what you think.  

 

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/autistic-man-denied-heart-transplant-upenn-hospital/story?id=17006152

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