Ethical Debate: Organ Transplants

  1. 3rdShiftGuy had a great ethical question in the 17y/o organ transplant tragedy that somewhat went unanswered. I think it would be a great thing to debate and discuss, but to avoid confusion and hurt feelings, made a new thread.

    Here was 3rdShiftGuy's question:
    The question is, should persons come from other countries, legally and with funds, get organ donations from our health care system?
    What are your thoughts on this?
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    About Q.

    Joined: Mar '01; Posts: 7,470; Likes: 56
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    Specialty: 7 year(s) of experience in LDRP; Education


  3. by   fergus51
    The wait lists as far as I know make no distinction between rich and poor and legal immigrant or born citizen. That said, I am not in favor of people (non-residents) coming here for an organ and then going back home, and I don't think it's allowed anyways unless the donor is a family member or friend willing to donate a kidney or something like that. Cadaver organs go to our residents.
  4. by   Spidey's mom
    My first reaction is to say that if they are here legally and have funds, then they should be put on the list as everyone else is and then just use the protocol already set up for who, what, when, where and how.

    I think this happens so seldom that it probably isn't the same magnitude of problem as illegals coming here to use our health care system.

    Maybe helping the country of origin set up a better health care system would also be something to consider. Do they not do transplants in Mexico?

    Having said all that, we here at work are still uncomfortable with people from other countries coming here, getting ahead of someone who is a citizen, and getting a transplant.

    Complicated is an understatement . . especially when you look at photos of Jesica.
  5. by   Q.
    Cadaver organs go to our residents.
    Really? This is true? So, an illegal comes to the USA, but is "in process" of obtaining legal citizenship, but becomes ill and is placed on the transplant list (and I understood it's prioritized by severity of condition). If two states away, a 24 y/o gets into a car accident and suffers head trauma and dies on the scene and is an organ donor. you're saying the illegal won't be eligible? I'm just asking for clarity.
  6. by   fergus51
    From what I understand that's the policy in Canada. I don't know at what stage of the process they are considered eligible, but from what I understand if say an American shows up on vacation in Banff and needs a heart, he goes back to the US to get one. I should look that up.
  7. by   fergus51
    Went onto our provincial and national transplant sites and the only stats talk about Canadian and provincial residents. Nothing about foreigners, generally because they can go to Asia and buy an organ easily and relatively cheaply with little wait time.
  8. by   MishlB
    Originally posted by stevielynn
    Maybe helping the country of origin set up a better health care system would also be something to consider. Do they not do transplants in Mexico?

    Having said all that, we here at work are still uncomfortable with people from other countries coming here, getting ahead of someone who is a citizen, and getting a transplant.

    I can't believe this!!! Do they not do transplants in Mexico?? What a comment. The family struggeld financially to get their daughter the care she needed, and what happens? She likely will die due to a "mistake" made here in the US. Setting up better health care in other countries is not the fix to this problem. Being a poor struggling minority in this country does not get you special treatment...just the opposite. Look at out history.
  9. by   Q.
    Let's all remember that this thread is not about Jesica and her situation, nor is it about minorities. It's about foreigners recieving organ donations from American citizens and if this should be allowable.
  10. by   Spidey's mom
    Mishl . . . if you read the first part of my message, I thought she should be allowed to have the surgery. I was just wondering about the state of healthcare in Mexico and why people feel they have to come to America and maybe the LONG-TERM fix is to export our wonderful healthcare expertise to countries that need it. Or export democracy . . . . .

    I never said what you think I said. Or at least didn't mean to give you that impression.

  11. by   Q.
    And yes, Stevielynn's question was I feel, legit. Why do foreigners come to the USA for transplants to begin with? Are they not common in other countries? Are the risks higher and if so, why?
  12. by   ShandyLynnRN
    I don't agree with it at all. I am very compassionate when it comes to illegal aliens. However, even here in the US, there are many many people that are citizens of this country that aren't able to get transplants and I don't think that we should allow someone to come from another country and take what few organs we DO have to transplant when those organs could be used to save the life of one of our own.

    I suppose I wouldn't be opposed if for whatever reason those organs couldn't be used for an american citizen, be it wrong type or match, or too far away or whatever..... it might be ok to use on someone non-citizen at that point.
  13. by   roxannekkb
    To mish1--I can't understand why you don't think setting up better healthcare in other countries will help the problem. If Mexico, for example, had a good transplant program, the family of Jesica would not have had to pay smugglers to get them across the border, and then go and live illegally in another country. They could have stayed in their own home, near their family and friends, and given Jesica the care she needs in familar surroundings. The same would go for anyone else in any other nation where healthcare is lacking. It's bad enough having a chronic and life threatening illness, but it's worse when you need to travel to get help--help you may not even be able to pay for.

    As far as the "mistake" that was made, yes, it was tragic, but she may well have rejected her organs even if they were matched. And the brain damage she suffered may well have been the result of the surgery. She could have ended up like this even if the correct organs had been transplanted initially. I have worked with liver transplantation in infants and children, and many of them died, even with matched organs.

    The ethics of giving one person six organs, foreigner or citizen, also comes into play. Six people might have been given a chance of life, but instead, six organs have been used for this one person. I am not saying right or wrong, but it is a subject which has come up and is being debated. In fact, heart and lung transplants are in and of themselves controversial, because 3 organs go to one person, and organs are a very scarce resource.
  14. by   wv_nurse 2003
    In my opinion (my opinion only) people come to the US for transplants because we are felt to have the most experience, the best qualified physicians, and perhaps better success (no I can't back this up with statistics--just speaking on thought). I also think that because we are the "land of opportunity" and have an open door boarder--they stand a better chance here than in their native countries because we base transplant priority on NEED, not money (although I am not convinced this is entirely true--but its what we say)--just my thoughts