Nursing Ethics and Medical Futility on Organ Transplant

Nursing Ethics and Medical Futility on Organ Transplant


The first successful organ transplant was undertaken in 1954 between two identical twins. Since then organ transplant has become one of the most important procedures to treat diseases that are otherwise considered untreatable. Organ transplantation provides patients with a gift of life when vital organs fail. Organ transplant requires other people – to dead or alive – to donate organs to the organ recipient. However, the organs available cannot meet the demand. This has led to a significant increase in waiting list for organ transplants. However, organ transplant faces several ethical issues that the medical profession has to tackle. Prior to discussing the ethical issues surrounding organ transplant, it is vital to provide a concise definition of organ transplant. Organ transplant refers to a surgical operation where a failed or damaged organ in a human is removed and replaced with a new organ. An organ refers to a body of specialized cells and tissues that perform a certain function within the body collaboratively. Some of the major organs in a human body include heart, eyes, kidney, liver, and skin. A graft is similar to an organ transplant. However, in grafting, a certain tissue is surgically re-implanted to replace certain tissues within an organ. Therefore, grafting does not involve the surgical removal of a whole organ. It is not possible to transplant all organs.

Ethical Issues

Shortage of Organs

The major ethical dilemma on organ transplantation comes from the shortage of available organs. Therefore, not all people who need an organ transplant ultimately ends up getting on. According to the United Network for Sharing (UNOS) website (, the U.S. has more than 80,000 people who are waiting for organs.

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