Organ transplants: “The silent revolution”

Publié le 19 Nov, 2015

Arthur Caplan, Director of Medical Ethics at the Langon Medical Centerat New York University refers in Forbes to the current “silent revolution in organ transplantation”.


He mentioned medical advances regarding new transplants which led to the birth of four children whose mothers had undergone a uterus transplantation in Switzerland and face and hand transplantation in France, the United States, China, Spain and Turkey. All of these transplants were revolutionary in his eyes because they involved non-vital organs. They were not carried out in an attempt to save a person’s life but rather to improve quality of life and even create other lives.


This change in paradigm, namely a change in transplantation from saving lives to improving the lives of others, involves an ethical change which has long since provided the basis for organ donation. Doctors and patients must rethink the benefit/risk ratio of these new forms of transplantation. In fact, transplants require recipients to take potent immunosuppressants, which can weaken some organs. If this medication is essential for life-saving transplants, it raises a question when it comes to non-essential transplants.


 Arthur Caplan is concerned about the effect that these new transplants could have on organ donation because, “it is one thing, emotionally, to donate the liver or a kidney of a partner or relative but quite something else to give their face, hands or uterus”. At the present time, all transplants are treated by the law and regulatory authorities as donations.


He concludes that this “new world of transplantation” needs to be rethought in terms of ethics.

Forbes (17/11/2015)

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