This article provides an ethical analysis and assessment of various actual and proposed policies of organ procurement and distribution in light of moral principles already embedded in U.S. institutions, laws, policies, and practices. Evaluating different methods of acquisition of human body parts–donation (express and presumed), sales, abandonment, and expropriation–the author argues for laws and policies, including required request, to maintain and facilitate express donation of organs by individuals and their families. Such laws and policies need adequate time for a determination of their effectiveness before society moves to other major alternatives, such as a market. In organ allocation and distribution, which have close moral connections with organ procurement, the author defends the judgment of the federal Task Force on Organ Transplantation that the community should have dispositional authority over donated organs, that professionals should be viewed as trustees and stewards of donated organs, and that the public should be heavily involved in the formation of policies of allocation and distribution. Concentrating on policies being developed in the United Network for Organ Sharing, the author examines the point system for cadaveric kidneys, the access of foreign nationals to organs donated in the U.S., and the multiple listings of patients seeking transplants. He concludes by identifying two major problems of equitable access to donated organs that will have to be addressed by social institutions other than UNOS: access to the waiting list for donated organs and the role of ability to pay in extrarenal transplants.
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James F. Childress; Ethical Criteria for Procuring and Distributing Organs for Transplantation. J Health Polit Policy Law 1 February 1989; 14 (1): 87–113. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03616878-14-1-87
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