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Thread: Kidney donors?

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    Default Kidney donors?

    I went to Tampa Hospital Tuesday for my initial screening for the transplant program. The facts are these. Over 92,000 people in the US are awaiting kidney donors and 4000 will die this year waiting. The best results are obtained from living donors but 1% of living donors will die as a result of the procedure. OTOH living donors, quite rightly, have priority should they need a kidney later in life.

    We have in the US an enormous pool of potential donors in our prisons. Mostly men serving long sentences with no realistic chance of ever getting out short of having their sentence commuted or being granted a pardon by the President or state Governor. Has any effort been made by the National Kidney Foundation or anyone else to set up a program whereby prison inmates could offer kidneys as part of a sentence reduction program or just a humanitarian gesture to impress a parole board?

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    This is a horrific idea, not to mention profoundly inhumane and unethical. Would you also permit clinical trials and other medical tests be offered next? And why stop at prisoners - why not include the hopelessly poor and the homeless as well, and offer cash rewards? And, like the case of Dr Wegener - since the Nazi camp inmates were condemned to a murderous death anyway, perhaps it wasn't really immoral to perform medical tests on them?

    I hope you get the point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MaxD View Post
    This is a horrific idea, not to mention profoundly inhumane and unethical. Would you also permit clinical trials and other medical tests be offered next? And why stop at prisoners - why not include the hopelessly poor and the homeless as well, and offer cash rewards? And, like the case of Dr Wegener - since the Nazi camp inmates were condemned to a murderous death anyway, perhaps it wasn't really immoral to perform medical tests on them?

    I hope you get the point.
    I don't think you do. There is a world of difference between 'volunatary' and forced donation although I admit I would also favor compulsory organ donation for condemned inmates. No point in letting them go to waste since they are to be put to death anyway.

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    MaxD, I think you went a little over the top there. I personally don't see anything wrong with a prisoner "willing " to donate an organ on their own. I wouldn't offer them money or a reward for it but I am sure that what ever they did to end up in prison was pretty horrific and probably inhumane maybe this would be a way for them to make up for what they had done. Kinda like giving a life instead of taking one.
    Life isn't about how you survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain !

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    I'm with Max --I'm going to take a hit on this, but I think some of us sorely need a basic ethics course.

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    I too see nothing wrong with voluntary donation by anyone, including prisoners, but would draw the line at any compulsory donation of organs by those condemned on death row. It is treating them like something less than human and denying them the right to make this decision on their own. They may have done something horrible to be on death row, but they still have rights to some autonomy as long as they are alive. (And let's not forget the people who have been wrongly put to death and their innocence proved later.)
    Anne, dx'ed April 2011

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    All the ethics committees I know about have the view that anyone confined against their will, prison, jail, psych hospital, can not be viewed as voluntary subjects for any research unless there are very stringent guidelines and over sight of the research project to ensure there is no apparent benefit for participation or penalty for not participating that might influence their decision to participate or not.
    Knowledge is power! Wisdom is using it to make good decisions!

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    And "ethics committees that you know about" have the final word? Based on what, that they self define themselves as 'ethics committees'?

    Let's be honest, there is no independent standard by which people can determine what is ethical. Personal preference and circumstance are at play in determining what is 'ethical' and what is not: witness the eternal controversy over abortion. In other times and places human sacrifice was not only condoned but practiced by the 'religious authorities' of a society. We view that as barbaric today but, if you believed that without it the rains would not come and there would be famime, toss the virgins into the volcano for the 'greater good'.

    Organ donation by a prisoner should not be required but there is nothing wrong, to me, with rewarding it with a reduction in sentence. It is no different than giving prisoners time off for 'good behavior'. In fact, the very purpose of incarcerating criminals was not to punish them or 'protect society'. That used to be accomplished far more cheaply and effectively with floggings or hangings. Instead we built 'Penitentiaries' or Reformatories and established departments of Corrections because, at the time. it was considered more 'ethical' to lock a man up for 5 years than whip him for a day in the hope his confinement would allow him to reflect on his life and thus be 'rehabilitated'

    If there is one thing we might all agree on it is that our present system has failed and it has failed because convicted criminals no longer have a path back to a decent life. Organ donation would be just one way for those imprisoned for serious crimes might earn their way out of prison.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JeanMarie View Post
    I'm with Max --I'm going to take a hit on this, but I think some of us sorely need a basic ethics course.
    I am with you JeanMarie and with Max.
    Alysia
    dx 2008


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    Although I have no problem with prisoners donating organs without gaining a reward, if more people donated we wouldn't even need to consider or discuss various scenarios and what is/isn't ethical! Perhaps that is the truly unethical situation.

    I have read a report for English prison systems and living donors. In brief it lists logistical reasons, rather than ethical reasons for the very few organ donations from prisoners. Such as security in the hospital (to prevent escape) and follow up treatment after the procedure.

    I am not sure if I agree with every point Sangell makes, but "It is no different than giving prisoners time off for 'good behavior'" is a valid point. Considering 'good behaviour' in prison is more akin to 'regular behaviour' out side of prison (i.e. you haven't attacked anybody) and prisoners get rewarded for that, then genuine good behaviour, such as donating a kidney, warrants more of a reward than 'good behaviour'.

    As for prisoners gaining a reward I'm undecided. I have tried to imagine a prisoner who has committed the worst crime, which for me would be the murder of a loved one. Would I prefer the prisoner to fulfil his full sentence with no privileges and to have lost my loved one. Or would I prefer my loved one's death to have had a huge benefit (possibly life saving) to someone, at the expense of the prisoner getting some privileges?
    I guess it would depend on what the privilege would be and what the original crime was.
    If my son had been stabbed in both kidneys and he had the opportunity to receive a kidney from someone locked up for avoiding paying tax and his privilege was an extra hour of free time (e.g. playing pool, watching tv) rather than been locked in his cell, then I wouldn't deny my son a life saving/changing operation.

    In my opinion, there is not a simple yes/no answer to if prisoners should be allowed to donate organs - there is too many variables. But I do see situations where it should be allowed, but NEVER forced, no matter hoe bad the original crime was.
    Diagnosed April 1995

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