Organ Donor Wanted: An Ethical Dilemma

Organ DonorA man in Newberg, Oregon, searching for an organ donor is now taking it to the streets. His wife, Dawn-Marie Gray, discusses his recent attempts in finding a kidney donor, claiming it to be an inspiration for many. However, some people disagree with this man’s attempt. There is an ethical dilemma for many who want to be considered an organ donor, and it is something they might not be aware of.

Kevin Gray has been standing on the side of highways near his hometown, holding a sign that says he is searching for a live kidney donor. A Facebook page, Are You My Type, offers a network of family and friends searching for donations. The page was created to spread awareness and provide resources about the disaster of kidney failure, dialysis and transplant.

Gray, a father of three, found out in May 2013 that his kidneys were in trouble. That year, life changed for the family, as he was informed that he was in need of a kidney transplant. Unfortunately, his wife is not able to donate one of her kidneys, because she has “horseshoe kidneys.”

Since then, Gray has taken to the streets, raising awareness and soliciting donors. Gray gets tired much of the time doing this, and the couple describes this tactic as hit or miss. Keven is blood type A, so he can receive either an O or A donor. The doctors informed the Gray family that positives and negatives do not matter in this case.

Dawn-Marie hopes people will sign up to become a living donor. If a person cannot donate, she says, there is always someone else whose life depends on an organ donation. The ethical dilemmas of this honorable act of charity can actually change people’s stance on whether or not they want to be listed as an organ  donor.

Not everyone believes donating an organ is the right thing to do. Some religions have been reported to ban organ donations among their congregations, but some posit that most of mainstream Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism allow, and even encourage, organ donations. Other concerns arise regarding those who are legally brain dead, and who had previously signed up as an organ donor.

Robert Ruog, professor of medical ethics, anesthesia and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, was cited in 2012 by The Wall Street Journal for his personal and professional views on the donation controversy. Ruog talked about the possible pain felt by an organ donor who was declared brain dead.

When signing up at the DMV to become a registered organ donor, ethical concerns on both sides could be a matter of debate. There is more to what a person is agreeing to than a mere organ donation. In doing this, people waive the right to informed consent when they mark themselves as organ donors on their driver’s licenses. This could be a moral accomplishment for some, but at this point, doctors have no obligation to inform the patient or relatives of what they will do to their body during an organ harvest operation. This is also the case if the patient/organ donor is brain dead, or otherwise put in an equivalent state of compromise.

This is a dilemma of ethical concern, but those wanting a donation from an organ donor will owe their life to anyone willing to give such a valuable gift. Transplant advocates firmly believe it is the right thing to do, but others claim there should be priority in life and death matters, fending off the authority doctors can impose during such critical situations.

By Lindsey Alexander



The Wall Street Journal

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