What if you were terminally ill and exhausted all treatments? Or what if your loved one was in this situation and all hope seemed dim? Organ donation has the ability to restore life were it scarce.
So meet Dyamond Ott, a teenager who received a liver and kidney transplant.
There is no question organ donation saved her life. This shows just how much science has evolved over the years. But how does it work and what ethical and social implications are faced?
“One organ and tissue donor can transform the lives of 10 or more people”- Organ and Tissue Authority
Organ donations involves replacing a damaged or diseased part of the body with a healthy one from a donator.
Each cell within the body contains a unique protein pattern that is projected at the surface. It is analysed by white blood cells to determine whether or not the cell belongs to the body. This process helps detect foreign substances and trigger an immune response.
In organ transplants the recipient receives foreign cells that are detected by their white blood cells to be alien. Naturally, this would elicit an immune response to remove the invader. However, this issue is overcome by immune suppressant drugs that stop the body from attacking the new cells. Therefore, the transplant is accepted.
One of the largest social issues that arise when it comes to organ donations is based on religion.
Some religions completely oppose the notion such as Jehovah’s Witnesses as they are against blood transfusions. One Jehovah Witnesses even claimed “to submit to such operations are thus living off the flesh of another human, that is cannibalistic”.
However, most religions such as Christianity and Buddhism accept organ donation and see it as a act of good will.
The waiting list for organ donation aims to be equitable and does not discriminate against religion, nationality, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, disability or age. However, there are still numerous ethical issues associated with organ allocation as listed below:
Each issue carries great complexity and controversy. With organ donations being so important it is crucial that each allocation is as fair as possible.
But is it fair that a person who has smoked a pack of cigarettes a day gets approved for a transplant before a child suffering with a terminal illness? Or that someone who has taken the life of another in a criminal act gets a second chance at theirs?
I believe there are faults in the system and more factors need to be put into consideration.
So what are your thoughts?
BBC News 2013, Organ donation plea from heart transplant girl, viewed 1st May 2016, <http://www.bbc.com/news/health-23203560>.
Centre of Bioethics 2013, Ethics of Organ Transplants, viewed 1st May 2016,<http://www.ahc.umn.edu/img/assets/26104/Organ_Transplantation.pdf>.
Organ and Tissue Authority 2014, About Transplatation, viewed 1st May 2016,<http://www.donatelife.gov.au/discover/about-transplantation>.
Oliver, M 2011, Organ Donation/Transplatation and Religion,viewed 1st of May 2016,<http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/741267_5>.
PDplus Donate Life, 2014,Organ and Tissue Donation-The Basics, viewed 1st of May 2016,<http://www.donatelife.gov.au/sites/default/files/PDplus%20Donate%20Life%202014%20V2.pdf>.