Transparent Vessels?: What Organ Donors Should Be Allowed to Know about Their Recipients

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 41 (1):323-332 (2013)


After a long search, Jonathan has finally found someone willing to donate a kidney to him and thereby free him from dialysis. Meredith is Jonathan's second cousin, and she considers herself a generous person, so although she barely knows Jonathan, she is willing to help. However, as Meredith learns more about the donation process, she begins to ask questions about Jonathan: “Is he HIV positive? I heard he got it using drugs. Has he been in jail? He's already had one live donor, so what happened to the first kidney? Did he forget to take his drugs or something?” The transplant center must, then, decide if Meredith is, in fact, entitled to answers to these kinds of questions. According to the Consensus Statement on the Live Organ Donor, “It is incumbent on the transplant center to provide full and accurate disclosure to potential donors of all pertinent information regarding risk and benefit to the donor and recipient.” But whether answers to the Meredith's questions count as “pertinent information regarding the risk and benefit” is the issue at hand.

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Richard Dees
University of Rochester

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