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PHI FPX 3200 Assessment 4 Robbing the Dead: Is Organ Conscription Ethical?

PHI FPX 3200 Assessment 4 : Robbing the Dead

Student name

Capella University

FPX 3200

Dr. Name

May 13th, 2024

Robbing the Dead: Is Organ Conscription Ethical?

Organ transplantation is a life-saving medical procedure for patients suffering from organ failure. However, there is a huge gap between the demand for donor organs and their availability, leading to a severe shortage. This shortage has led to considering alternative methods, such as conscripted organ procurement. This practice involves harvesting organs from deceased individuals without their explicit consent, which raises serious ethical concerns. It questions the respect for the autonomy and dignity of the deceased and their family, as well as the fairness and equity of the organ allocation system. This assessment aims to explore the ethical issues associated with conscripted organs and highlights the need for effective regulation of organ donation practices.

Organ transplantation continues to be a critical yet complex field due to the profound imbalance between the number of available organs and patients’ needs (DeCamp et al, 2022). As of 2023, the United States saw over 46,000 organ transplants performed, reflecting both an increase in organ donations and advancements in medical practices. However, the national transplant waiting list still included over 103,000 individuals, underscoring the persistent shortage​​ (Zambrano, 2023).

Moral Concerns Related to Organ Conscription

Organ conscription, acquiring organs from deceased individuals without prior consent, has been proposed as one method to alleviate this shortage. While this approach could potentially increase the number of available organs for transplantation, it raises significant ethical issues, including concerns over the dignity and autonomy of the deceased and the potential for exploitation of vulnerable groups. Ethical considerations demand that such practices be regulated carefully to ensure fairness in organ allocation and to respect the rights of individuals and their families​.

In response to these challenges, efforts are underway to refine the organ donation system to enhance equity and efficiency in organ allocation. This includes setting ambitious goals to increase the number of transplants performed annually and improving systems for organ matching and donor registration​. Given the complexity and sensitivity of organ donation and transplantation, it’s crucial that any policies or practices, such as organ conscription, are implemented with strict ethical oversight and transparent regulations to protect all parties involved.

Compare and Contrast Examples of Organ Donation Policy

Organ donation policies vary globally, reflecting diverse cultural values and healthcare priorities. The United States employs an opt-in system, requiring individuals to actively register as donors, leading to lower registration rates and contributing to a significant shortage of available organs. As of 2023, over 46,000 transplants were performed, yet more than 103,000 individuals remained on the waiting list​. In contrast, Spain uses an opt-out system where consent is presumed unless explicitly denied, resulting in higher donation rates. This approach is supported by public awareness campaigns and a robust healthcare infrastructure, though ethical concerns about presumed consent persist.

Iran’s regulated market for kidney donations allows living donors to receive compensation, effectively reducing the waiting list for transplants. However, this system raises ethical issues regarding the commodification of human organs and potential exploitation of economically disadvantaged individuals (Gogineni, 2022). Meanwhile, Singapore combines an opt-out policy with incentives, granting priority to transplant recipients who have not opted out. This strategy aims to boost donation rates but can also raise concerns about fairness and coercion. These examples illustrate the complex interplay between ethical considerations, cultural values, and practical outcomes in organ donation policies. They highlight the need for balanced approaches that respect individual autonomy while effectively addressing organ shortages.

Questions about Fairness and Justness

Access to organ transplantation is essential for individuals with organ failure, yet the limited availability of organs often leads to disparities and unjust allocation practices (Costa et al., 2022). This scarcity is exacerbated by the lack of pre-death consent policies in the U.S., which relies on an opt-in system where individuals must actively register as donors. This approach results in lower donor rates compared to countries with presumed consent policies. The absence of pre-death consent regulations raises ethical concerns about the fairness and equity of organ distribution, as decisions about organ conscription—harvesting organs from the deceased without explicit prior consent—can lead to potential exploitation and coercion, undermining the principles of justice and respect for autonomy in the organ transplantation process.

Strategies for Increasing Public Acceptance

Increasing public acceptance of organ donation requires a multifaceted approach, including extensive public awareness campaigns, education, and transparent communication about the benefits and ethical safeguards of donation. Countries like Spain have achieved high donor rates by implementing presumed consent policies and robust public education efforts that emphasize the life-saving potential of organ donation and address common myths and misconceptions. Engaging community leaders and influencers to advocate for organ donation can also play a significant role in shifting public perceptions. Incorporating discussions about organ donation into routine medical care and ensuring that individuals and families are well-informed about their rights and options can help build trust and willingness to participate in donation programs. Implementing these strategies can lead to a more informed and supportive public, ultimately increasing the number of available organs for transplantation.

Significance of the Consent

Consent is a critical ethical and legal cornerstone in organ donation, ensuring that the procurement of organs for transplantation respects individual autonomy and voluntary decision-making. In the United States, an opt-in consent model is used, requiring individuals to actively register their willingness to donate organs after death, thereby honoring their right to make decisions about their bodies. This model underscores the principles of autonomy and self-determination, demanding that healthcare providers respect the expressed wishes of individuals. Without explicit consent, it is both illegal and unethical to harvest organs, reflecting the importance of consent in upholding ethical standards and legal requirements in medical practice. Ensuring that organ donation remains a voluntary act helps maintain public trust and supports the ethical integrity of transplantation practices. Through these measures, the field of organ donation can continue to respect patient rights while providing life-saving transplants to those in need.

Consequences when Donor Consent is Absent

 When donor consent is missing, it can lead to violations of personal autonomy and cause emotional distress for the deceased’s family members (Lewis, 2020). This lack of consent can also result in unequal access to organ transplantation programs, raising significant concerns about fairness and justice. In countries with presumed consent policies, individuals who do not wish to donate their organs may inadvertently become donors, creating further ethical challenges (Martínez et al., 2022). The absence of explicit donor consent can have far-reaching consequences, impacting individual rights, ethical standards, and the equitable operation of organ donation programs.

Alternative Policies for Availability of Donor Organs

The shortage of donor organs for transplantation is a pressing issue in the medical field (Golden, 2022). To address this, some advocates in the United States suggest revising organ donation laws to increase organ supply. One proposal is to adopt presumed consent policies, where individuals are considered potential donors unless they opt out, as studies show these policies result in higher organ recovery rates and better patient outcomes. Another suggestion involves creating a market with financial incentives for donors, though this raises ethical and cultural concerns, as the sale of organs is prohibited in many countries. Public education campaigns are vital for increasing organ donation rates by informing people about the benefits and addressing their concerns (Madden et al., 2020). Improving communication and infrastructure between hospitals and organ procurement organizations can also enhance the efficiency of organ donation processes (Purwaningsih, 2020). Implementing these policies and educational efforts can help mitigate the donor organ shortage and improve transplantation outcomes.

Consequences of Continued Donor Organ Shortages

Continued shortages of donor organs have severe consequences, leaving many patients with prolonged illness, diminished quality of life, and higher mortality rates (Costa, 2022). The lack of available organs exacerbates health disparities and disproportionately impacts underserved communities with limited access to healthcare. This situation reduces overall societal productivity and increases healthcare costs due to extended hospital stays and ongoing treatments (Neizer et al., 2020). The scarcity also drives some individuals toward the black market, where the risks include infectious diseases and exploitation of vulnerable populations. Those unable to afford alternative treatments or travel abroad for transplantation are left without options. To mitigate these issues, it is crucial to implement solutions such as public education campaigns, increased donor registration, and policy changes to enhance the efficiency of organ procurement and transplantation processes.

PHI FPX 3200 Assessment 4 Robbing the Dead: Is Organ Conscription Ethical? Conclusion

In conclusion, addressing the persistent shortage of donor organs is critical for improving patient outcomes and reducing health disparities. The current opt-in model in the United States contributes to low donation rates, while countries with presumed consent policies see higher rates of organ recovery. Ethical considerations around consent, autonomy, and potential exploitation must guide any policy changes (Pemberton, 2022). Solutions like public education campaigns, improved infrastructure for organ donation, and potential financial incentives could help increase the organ supply. Implementing these strategies is essential to ensure a fair and efficient organ transplantation system, ultimately saving more lives and reducing the burden on healthcare systems.

Childress, J. F. (2022). Robert Veatch’s transplantation ethics: Obtaining and allocating organs from deceased persons. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics.

Costa, J., Rudisill, C., & Salcher, M. (2020). “Relative consent” or “presumed consent”? Organ donation attitudes and behavior. The European Journal of Health Economics.

DeCamp, M., Snyder, L., & Fins, J. J. (2022). Point: Does normothermic regional perfusion violate the ethical principles underlying organ procurement? Yes. Chest, 162(2), 288–290.

Gogineni, S. (2022). Organ procurement: An ethical analysis in relation to Emanuel and Emanuel’s four models.

Golden, L. E. (2022). Considerations on the relationship between living organ donor and recipient. Transplant Psychiatry, 297–300.

PHI FPX 3200 Assessment 4: Robbing the Dead: Is Organ Conscription Ethical? References

Lewis, A., Koukoura, A., Tsianos, G.-I., Gargavanis, A. A., Nielsen, A. A., & Vassiliadis, E. (2020). Organ donation in the US and Europe: The supply vs demand imbalance. Transplantation Reviews, 35(2), 100585.

Madden, S., Collett, D., Walton, P., Empson, K., Forsythe, J., Ingham, A., Morgan, K., Murphy, P., Neuberger, J., & Gardiner, D. (2020). The effect on consent rates for deceased organ donation in Wales after the introduction of an opt‐out system. Anaesthesia, 75(9), 1146–1152.

Martínez, M. V., Díaz, G., Liedo, B., Rueda, J., & Molina, A. (2022). Beyond the altruistic donor: Embedding solidarity in organ procurement policies. Philosophies, 7(5), 107.

Neizer, H., Singh, G. B., Gupta, S., & Singh, S. K. (2020). Addressing donor-organ shortages using extended criteria in lung transplantation. Annals of Cardiothoracic Surgery, 9(1), 49–50.

Pemberton, D. (2022). Biographical lives and organ conscription. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, 44(1), 75–93.

Purwaningsih, S. N. (2020). Organ transplant agreement between donor and recipient by notary.

Zambrano, A. (2023). Organ conscription and greater needs. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 32(1), 123–133.

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