Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Organ Donation, The Gift of Life

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

 

Science

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.

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Click for Photo Source

Social

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.

 

Ethics

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:

  • Should someone be able to have another organ transplant if they already had one?
  • Should those whose lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking, drug use etc, that lead to organ damage be eligible?
  • Should suicidal patients be eligible?
  • Should condemned criminals offenders be eligible?
  • Should those that cannot afford anti-rejection drugs or do not have insurance be dismissed from the waiting list?

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?

 

 

 

 

References

 

BBC News 2013, Organ donation plea from heart transplant girl, viewed 1st May 2016, <http://www.bbc.com/news/health-23203560&gt;.

Centre of Bioethics 2013, Ethics of Organ Transplants, viewed 1st May 2016,<http://www.ahc.umn.edu/img/assets/26104/Organ_Transplantation.pdf&gt;.

Organ and Tissue Authority 2014, About Transplatation, viewed 1st May 2016,<http://www.donatelife.gov.au/discover/about-transplantation&gt;.

Oliver, M 2011, Organ Donation/Transplatation and Religion,viewed 1st of May 2016,<http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/741267_5&gt;.

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&gt;.

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4 comments on “Organ Donation, The Gift of Life

  1. tristanfernandez
    May 5, 2016

    Hi. Great blog post i really enjoyed reading it. I’m glad you brought up the ethical issues that surround organ donation such as if we should be giving donated organs to people who cause damage to their original organs (chain smokers, alcoholics ect.) over individuals who suffer from diseases out of their own control. This ethical issue is very complex and it’s great you mentioned it.

    It would be also nice to potentially include something about living organ donors as recent law changes have allowed these individuals to get payed time off work if they donate part of the liver or a kidney (http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/Leave-for-living-organ-donors). These donors are often overlooked in comparison to typical organ donation so it would be interesting to see it discussed in more depth.

    Overall a very informative blog, well done!

    References:
    Department of Health 2015, ‘Leave for Living Organ Donors’, Department of Health, http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/Leave-for-living-organ-donors , Retrieved 5th May 2016.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. cherylkwong
    May 7, 2016

    Hi,
    I agree and support organ donation. In science, organ donation is a successful method to continue human life. In social, it is very helping that people are willing to donate their organs to patients after they death. As your blog mentioned, I think it is a good idea to think more about donation factors. Because I think that it is no reason to help someone who do not care about their health. We should use the organ to help someone who care about their health and deserve the organ.
    Nowadays, there is a discussion about not allowing smokers to donate organs in the USA. It is hard to imagine if smoker’s lung donated to other patients as smokers’ lung may be not healthy too.
    More information about smokers not allow to donate organs:
    https://forcechange.com/47645/do-not-allow-smokers-to-donate-organs/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lizkawka
    May 7, 2016

    Hi there, I truly do believe that organ donation provides a second chance to life. Your title speaks for itself as you’ve titled it “The Gift of Life”, signifying that an organ donor has the ability to enhance the lives of recipients and enables them to live healthier and longer lives.

    I like how you’ve included rhetorical questions at the beginning of your blog. I found that making someone to consider himself or herself to be in a situation where all hope was lost and the only solution is to reflect on how organ donation could be the only possibility to save ones life.

    Mentioning a story of a recipient is a good input as it shows that organ donation is able to save a life that is desperately in need of a replacement organ. I did some research and came across an article where a father’s daughter was struck by a car and died. The father decided to donate her organs and tissues and several individuals benefited from her: a mother of five received her heart, a widow with four children received her lung, a 59-year-old man received her liver, a widow with one daughter received her kidney, a father received the other kidney, and her corneas went to a 26-year-old man and a 60-year-old woman.

    The structure of your blog is broken apart nicely and the headings for each topic made it an easy read. The ethical concerns that you brought up regarding organ allocation is something that society needs to consider.

    You could provide a statistic regarding how many people each year are on waiting lists for organ transplants, and if more people chose to donate their organs the number of people waiting would decrease.

    Overall, this is a blog that’s worth a read!

    References:

    Moritsugu, K P. 2013, ‘The Power of Organ Donation to Save Lives Through Transplantation’, Public Health Reports, vol. 128, no. 4, pp. 245-246,

    Liked by 1 person

    • lizkawka
      May 7, 2016

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This entry was posted on May 2, 2016 by in Burwood - Thursday 2pm.

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