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Who Should Receive Liver Transplants

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Who Should Receive Liver Transplants

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  • August 2006
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There are three important facts to consider when thinking about liver transplants. Alcoholism is the leading cause of liver disease, donor livers are extremely scarce and liver transplants are very expensive to perform. These facts force us to ask the question, Should alcoholism be a factor in deciding who receives liver transplants? I propose that alcoholics who have done nothing to better their condition should be placed at the bottom of the waiting list for liver transplants. Not all alcoholics should be excluded from treatment. Alcoholics who have received treatment and improved their quality of life for a substantial period of time should be able to compete equally for liver transplants. I base my proposal on the considerations of fairness and distributive justice. Scarcity of donor livers forces us to make a decision in regards to who receives transplants and people who have liver damage due to no fault of their own should not be punished.

Based on principles of fairness, practicing alcoholics should be at the bottom of the list for receiving liver transplants. In society today people must be held accountable for their mistakes, therefore it is only fair that patients with ARESLD who are still drinking should be held responsible for their behavior. ARESLD patients who have been diagnosed with alcoholism and treated for their illness should receive equal opportunities for treatment. These patients have the disease of alcoholism. If they have taken the effort and struggled to make their life better, it is remarkably unfair to place them in the same category as practicing alcoholics. Alcoholism is recognized as a disease and patients who have overcome this disease should not be judged on their poor decisions in the past.

The system of distributive justice is often put to use when problems of allocating scarce resources, such as healthy livers, arise. The system can be used in this circumstance as well. Many things must be taken into...

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