Human organs from prisoners: kidneys for life

Journal of Medical Ethics 29 (3):171-175 (2003)

A proposal to allow prisoners to save their lives or to be eligible for commutation of sentence by donating kidneys for transplantation has been a subject of controversy in the Philippines. Notwithstanding the vulnerabilities associated with imprisonment, there are good reasons for allowing organ donations by prisoners. Under certain conditions, such donations can be very beneficial not only to the recipients but to the prisoners themselves. While protection needs to be given to avoid coercion and exploitation, overprotection has to be avoided. The prohibition on the involvement of prisoners in organ transplantation constitutes unjustified overprotection. Under certain conditions, prisoners can make genuinely independent decisions. When it can be reasonably ascertained that they are able to decide freely, society should recognise an obligation to help them implement their decisions, such as when they intend to donate an organ as a way of asserting their religious faith and performing a sacrifice in atonement for their sins
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DOI 10.1136/jme.29.3.171
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