During the last decades of the 20th century and the beginning of this one, human organ transplantation crystallized achievements of an array of disciplines, making it one of the most promising procedures in medicine. Organ transplantation is an area of high biomedical technologies and social importance; still, it is regarded as an ethical dilemma in general and medical ethics. The clinical potential of the procedure may eclipse moral and social problems associated with it for a number of researchers, yet they cannot be overlooked. The ethicality of organ transplantation, its advantages, and disadvantages, is a question that is challenging and controversial due to its involvement with the matters of death, nature of voluntariness, and mismatch between the need and supply.
The scope of the debates around organ donation can be demonstrated by the fact that the domain earned its proper discipline within ethics named transplantation ethics. The philosophy of organ donation and its advantages seem to rest on the pillars of altruism and compassion (Dalal, 2015). The risks that the procedure entails suggest a need for extreme motivation from donors, but, from my standpoint, ethical advantages connected to it are ephemeral. Organ donation media campaigns depict it as an empathetic act, limiting the benefits for donors of the procedure to the sense of moral elevation (Moorlock & Draper, 2018). This approach is useful when a donor is emotionally involved with a patient, but otherwise, in my opinion, it is not efficient.
Even if the benefits seem limited to the emotional satisfaction of the donating side, the procedure remains an enormous medical breakthrough. Research connected to organ donation may bring future advances, such as producing iPS cells to create genetically identical organs (Jawoniyi et al., 2018). In this way, satisfaction from the procedure for donors, to a degree, depends on their interpersonal connection and moral standards, but for the progress of biomedical technologies and scientific knowledge in the field, organ donations are enriching.
Despite several advantages connected to the procedure, its negative sides may overweight the scientific progress that it embodies and evokes. Even though organ buying and selling were prohibited in the United States by Anatomical Gift Act and the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984, the illegal market of organs still preserves its activity worldwide (Jawoniyi, 2018). This state of affairs may prompt the fear of organ market creation where the poor would be harvested for the rich (Dalal, 2015). In my opinion, this fear is, perhaps, exaggerated and conspiratory, but it stems from preconditions created by the existence of illegal organ trade. The ethical dubiousness of the procedure is further aggravated by the imbalance between supply and demand, which, in my view, is the most significant drawback, as it provides space for financial manipulations. Moreover, the lack of donors precipitates human trafficking. Among other disadvantages, Dalal enumerates diminished respect for the sanctity of the human body and life itself (Dalal, 2015). Hence, the ethics of organ donation may vary from region to region, depending on religious views that predominate there.
Caught in controversies and surrounded by moral dilemmas, organ donation is a promising domain that encompasses the biomedical progress of the last century. Human trafficking and involvement of financial insensitive, for instance, give a foundation for its opponents to declare it as predominantly dangerous and devoid of morals. Nevertheless, I believe the technologies of organ donation are only in the initial stages of development – clinical prospects and scientific knowledge overweight the risk associated with it, which can be regulated by stricter policies and enhanced control.
Dalal, A. R. (2015). Philosophy of organ donation: Review of ethical facets. World Journal of Transplantation, 5(2), 44–51.
Jawoniyi, O., Gormley, K., McGleenan, E., & Noble, H. R. (2018). Organ donation and transplantation: Awareness and roles of healthcare professionals. A systematic literature review. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27(5-6), 726–738.
Moorlock, G., & Draper, H. (2018). Empathy, social media, and directed altruistic living organ donation. Bioethics, 32(5), 289–297.