The Ethics of Organ Transplants: The Current Debate

By Arthur L. Caplan; Daniel H. Coelho | Go to book overview

15. Presumed Consent:
The Solution to the
Critical Donor Shortage?

Laurie G. Futterman

What the evolutionary structure of the Metaphysics of Quality shows is that there is not just one moral system. There are many. There is the morality called the "laws of nature," by which inorganic patterns triumph over chaos; there is morality called the "law of the jungle," where biology triumphs over the inorganic forces of starvation and death; there is morality where social patterns triumph over biology, "the law"; and there is an intellectual morality, which is still struggling in its attempts to control society. 1

The concept of exchanging body parts through transplantation is part of early medical lore. Previously considered experimental, transplantation for end‐ stage organ disease is now the standard intervention for patients who no longer respond to conventional medical or surgical therapies. Since its inception and application, organ transplantation has been scrutinized by medical professionals and by the public.

Extraordinary advances in science and medicine such as transplantation of human tissues bring about previously unimaginable societal benefits, but also create profound implications involving autonomy and belonging, opposing moral considerations, and legal concerns. In a situation in which technology is changing faster than our values, the issue of salvaging organs from the dead to meet the escalating need of human organs for transplantation has evolved into an intricate web of interdisciplinary concerns and value conflict, in which right and wrong are only opinions.

This organ supply-demand disparity and the call for its resolution have

____________________
Reprinted by permission of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, American Journal of Critical Care 4, no. 2 ( September 1995): 383-88.

-161-

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