Professor Rob Drummond
WR 121 English Composition II of Oregon State University
22 February 2013
Should a Prisoner Be on the Waiting List of Organ Transplant? When both a prisoner and a non-criminal need an organ transplant, how can a doctor make the decision? Doctors have an ethical duty to save all patients. No matter what kind of patients they encounter, a cruel killer or an innocent victim, they should treat them in the same way. In many Hong Kong movies about gangsters, doctors save criminals by pure purpose of redemption and they are my idols. A doctor should focus on his duty, place the most deadly ill patients on the waiting list first and then try his best to care for other patients until the next opportunity. When it comes to transplant, a prisoner is a good candidate because he meets all requirements. He is badly ill. His life is regulated by prison staff and is drug-, alcohol-free. He will be healthy again and prison staffs will not need to worry about his disease. But opponents focus on the background of patients and future benefits they will bring. These opponents are taxpayers and patients as well as their families and supporting networks. They do a lot for society and will do even more in the future while prisoners must stay in prison at great taxpayer cost. Also prisoners have violated their obligations and have lost some human rights like freedom. And many prisoners have been alcoholics and drug addicts and have ruined their health. Therefore, they don’t deserve transplants. If they are granted a transplant, others’ opportunity will be taken. Possibly an important leader or a beloved family member dies. Society, families and friends will lose a lot. After I shallowly analyzed the transplant case, I became really confused because no matter what a doctor chooses, it seems half good, half bad. So I had to ask a question, when a prisoner and a noncriminal patient need transplant, who should be placed on the organ transplant waiting list? But when I wanted to research the question, other questions came to me. Does the order on the waiting list really matter? And if it matters, why? Does UNOS have criteria to decide? With these questions, I searched the Internet and found an article called “Ethics of Organ transplantation” from University of Minnesota. It gave me a clue to find some data from the United Network for Organ Sharing website www.unos.org. According to the website, there were still more than 117,000 candidates on the transplant waiting list until their last up-to-date report on February 22,2013. In 2012, there were 25,787 transplants performed for a sole year. The organs were taken from 12,874 donors both decreased and living (updated daily on www.unos.org). From these statistics, although 25,787 transplants seem like a large number, 117,000 people remain on the waiting list. The gap between need and provision is quite big and it is growing shown by the website. Giving a transplant to a person means ignoring others’ pain and possibly leaving them to die. It is organ scarcity that makes ethical dilemmas arise(Center for Bioethics). Receivers win and failures must continue waiting until desperation. And I also found an article called “UNOS and the Waiting List”. It told me, “UNOS makes the rules about who can do transplants and how organs are to be allocated (given) to patients. ” And, “The match list is based on the number of antigens matching, the antibody levels of the recipient, and the length of time a recipient has been on the waiting list. Children under 18 also get extra points. You could be listed a short time and come up on the match list due to antigen matching, or could wait for many years due to a high antibody level.” (UC David Transplant Center) From these quotations, I thought the transplant list bases on the medical requirements rather than other aspects of patients. It seems humane and scientific. But in this case, if prisoners and non-criminal patients have the same...
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