A short note on the ethics of liver transplantation

6 years ago I received a successful liver transplant. For that, I shall be eternally grateful to the surgeons, doctors and wonderful nurses.

In the same ward as myself was a 35 years old alcoholic, he had been drinking up to 5 bottles of white lightning (cheap strong cider) per day. A thoroughly uncouth man, who was forever pressing the emergency button to call the nurse. He told me he was considered by the Doctors to be “high risk”, I myself had been classed as” low risk”.
Then he told me he had waited only 3 month on the waiting list. This made me think, as I myself had waited 9 month on the waiting list.

Why so long I wondered considering I was classed as “low risk” Plus this man had brought about his own problem. My problem was not caused by alcohol.
I began to think it was unfair, I felt like the alcoholic had been prioritised and I had, in effect been punished. So I questioned the Transplant coordinator but she could shed no light on my query.

This note discusses the ethics of who does and who doesn’t receive the life saving surgery. “oh” well at least I am alive now and shall be for years to come yet. I learned later the alcoholic died !!!

The Electric Agora

By Daniel Tippens

This is the first of what will be several rounds of dialogue between Dan Kaufman and Dan Tippens on “moralizing medicine.”  As in a real conversation, each entry will consist of relatively short bursts of points and counterpoints that not only will keep the exchange moving, but will leave room for development of the relevant ideas in the comment threads that follow.

I have been concerned about the way in which we moralize medicine, and after several chats about the topic with my dear friend Dan Kaufman, I’ve decided to put down a few brief thoughts. My concern is with our occasional reliance on the concept of punishment in medical practice, and particularly with regard to organ transplantation. In the United States, organ scarcity is a serious problem. An estimated twenty-two people die each day, because we lack a sufficient number of organs to save them. Our…

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16 responses to “A short note on the ethics of liver transplantation

  1. Pleased u have a healthy life cuz, I for one do believe , money talks


  2. I’m glad you are here, Kenny.


    • Hi Monica, lovely to see you here. I know i have been neglecting this place in favour of f/b.
      But i still think about the people and friends i have made here. We don’t always see the stars,
      but we know they are there !!! x


      • Quite lovely, dear friend. I miss your presence. I never found Facebook satisfying – I think I was expecting more of a WP connection from it.


        • I too miss my friends here on w/p.Monica. But like the saying goes ” we may not see the stars all the time. But we know they are there”
          I understand that f/b does not suit everyone. Just do what makes you happy, that’s what I do 🙂 Take care my lovely far away friend !!! 🙂


  3. Congrajulations on your successful transplant. Alcholism is disease, not a moral failure, so maybe they didn’t feel like penalizing for a disease, that said, I have heard that alchoholics in the US are deferred for liver transplant if they are not in extended recovery as continuing to drink will lead to more liver failure. I remember about twenty years ago when this was policy (I am not sure if it still is) and Larry Hagman got a transplant and posted photos of himself in his house in front of his massively stocked personal bar. I remember wondering if having money got one further up on the waiting list in the US where money talks re: medical care.


    • Hi Cindy, I do not agree that alcoholism is a disease. As it states in the note. “If one man burns his house down deliberately
      and another mans house burns down by accident. Then which man deserves help the most ? Yes money helps, in fact foreigners are coming to England to buy Liver transplants. Jumping the queue and because of that English people go without the life saving surgery. A famous Irish football star “George Best” was given a new liver. It didn’t last long as he was a alcoholic and drank himself to death. That was a waste of a liver. I hope you never need a transplant Cindy, ti’s not a pleasant experience !!!


  4. Good to know you’re still here.


  5. gute abend und gute nacht jasmin


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