Wednesday, 23 October 2013
Jordan Conference Center Auditorium
University of Virginia School of Medicine
A John F. Anderson Memorial Lecture
Who Gets Organs For Transplant?
Medical, Legal, and Ethical Views Occasioned
by the Sarah Murnaghan Case
Kenneth Brayman MD PhD, Division of Transplant Surgery,
Department of Surgery, School of Medicine,UVA
Richard J. Bonnie LLB, School of Law, UVA
James F. Childress PhD, Department of Religious Studies and
Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life, UVA
Allocating organs for transplantation is a challenge across the world—the list of eligible transplant candidates gets longer and longer while the supply of suitable organs remains relatively fixed. With such unequal supply and demand, not everyone who requires a transplant for end-stage organ disease can or will receive this life-saving or life-improving treatment, and hard choices about candidate and donor suitability and priority are common. As a result, organ trafficking is brisk, even if illegal, in some parts of the world. In the U.S., organ distribution is highly regulated and overseen by UNOS, a private organization under contract with the Department of Health and Human Services.
Questions about transplant candidate suitability and priority made headlines earlier this year, when 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan’s parents went to court (and to the media) to request that their daughter, dying of cystic fibrosis, be placed on the eligibility list for a lung transplant. The court’s decision, UNOS’s followup (Sarah got a new, fictitious birthdate to qualify to receive adult lungs), and Sarah’s two double-lung procedures galvanized the transplant community, bioethicists, policymakers, and the public alike.
Even as efforts continue to increase the organ supply, what should we do about our allocation systems? In this Medical Center Hour, three experts engage the medical, legal, and ethical questions raised by the Sarah Murnaghan case.