The Belgian Advisory Committee on Bioethics has just addressed the ethics of a new way of searching for kidneys or a liver with a view to transplantation.
To date, patients waiting for a transplant can either ask a living relative to donate an organ or else register on the waiting list for a deceased donor organ. From now on, patients can search for organs via social networks. The Dutch refer to this as “targeted altruistic donation“.
The Bioethics Advisory Committee responsible for evaluating this practice has a divided opinion on this approach. Whilst some members believe that “this public call for organ donation from a living donor is justified because of its merits”, they nevertheless denounce the risks: the need “to examine” all candidates responding to the request and “the fact that patients on waiting lists are overtaken by people making requests on social networks“. For other members, two obstacles remain insurmountable – the emotional dimension used as the argument behind requests for organ donation and the risk of donor payment. The latter has been unanimously rejected. In fact, the Advisory Committee on Bioethics has stated that “donation must be voluntary. Only organ harvesting costs can be reimbursed“.
Institut Européen de Bioéthique (27/08/2017)