Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur
jducoeur

And the world raises yet another interesting ethics question...

So today's big hoohah is about a woman in Holland who is taking a novel approach towards organ donation. She is dying of cancer, and wants to donate a kidney while she's still alive. But instead of simply submitting to the usual impersonal waiting lists, she's doing something quite different: she'll be appearing on a TV show with three "contestants" who need kidneys, and who will make their cases. Viewers can send in advice during the show; at the end, she'll make her choice about who gets this particular gift of life.

Public opinion has been predictably unhappy about it. People are shocked, and that's appropriate: it's shocking when someone crosses the conventional lines like this. But when you step past the shock of the new and different, the ethics look remarkably thorny, and I find myself of very mixed minds. I'm willing to grant that, by the usual norms, it's kind of tasteless. The more interesting question, though, is is it reasonable?

So here's a question tossed out to the gallery: is this an appropriate thing to do? Should organ donation always be managed with the usual impartial and presumably fair waiting lists, or is there something potentially inspiring about giving the donor the great and terrible power to make this life-and-death decision? Is it reasonable to call attention to the poor state of organ donation with a publicity stunt like this, or is this the thin end of a very bad wedge? I'm pretty sure I could Silverwing this one all over the place, but I'm curious what my flist thinks...
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