Ethical Question: Transplants

Here is an ethical problem I've been mulling over in my head the past few weeks:

2 patients need a heart transplant, Patient A and Patient B. Patient A is extremely sick, needs an immediate transplant, and has about a 5% chance of surviving, even with a successful transplant. Patient B is not as sick as patient A, and could conceivably wait up to a year for a transplant. If he receives a transplant now, his chance of surviving is 90%. A heart becomes available. The only two matching candidates on the transplant list are Patient A and Patient B. Who should get the heart? What if the percentages were changed? Who should decide?

Underlying issue: How do we balance medical necessity with availabe resources?

Note: My family has experience with transplants, as my father received 2 kidney transplants and a pancreas transplant. I'm looking forward to getting my Dad's perspective on this question.


Sean said…
gut feeling: patient B

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