When an organ is affected by a disease, or you get in an accident that affects your organs, treatments don’t always work. For those who are suffering from kidney failure, dialysis doesn’t necessarily work.
However, when all treatment fails, organ transplantation is usually the next best alternative. Sadly the supply of organ donation doesn’t match the need. In this post, we’ll be examining a couple of books that take a look at the subject of organ donation.
The United States alone needs over 115,000 organs, and approximately 28,000 surgeries are carried out annually. While a good percentage of that number comes from the dead, occasionally some good Samaritans volunteer to donate their organs.
With the tremendous need for organ transplants, you would expect such good Samaritans to be celebrated and welcomed with open arms, but sadly that isn’t always the case. You tell people you are considering donating your organs and they’ll probably look at you funny, and some may even try to convince you to change your mind.
This book explores the stories of more than 20 good Samaritans that have donated a bit of their liver, parts of their lungs, a kidney, to complete strangers. It explores the motivations behind such actions. What could compel humans to act out so selflessly for people they barely know? Is it because of their religion? Altruism or are they perhaps seeking atonement?
Most books on organ donation tend to direct their view on the needs of recipients and the shortage of organs. The organ donor experience, however, brings you a compelling and unique perspective from the viewpoint of the donor. The authors Bramstedt and Down, one a consultant, the other an organ recipient also from someone unknown, have put together an appealing book that explores the lives of breathing, living organ donors who are giving significant help to people they don’t know.
The book also includes an in-depth intellectual analysis of organ donation as well as the stories of contribution you barely get to hear. Most of these stories share a common theme such as a sense of abundance, a history of altruism, as well as a distinct look into the donor’s lives to see how they ended up deciding to become donors.
The stories and analysis will challenge you, and the appendix of resource in the book will increase your knowledge of organ donation and give more information to those who want it. While the authors were as honest as possible in highlighting the risks that come with organ donation, the tone of the book is mainly positive. The organ donor experience not only brings to light the facet of organ donation that is rarely talked about, but it also does a good job celebrating these good Samaritans.
In this book, Margaret Lock takes a look at the world of organ transplant and compares the industry in Japan and North America (as well as bits of Europe). The overall theme of the book isn’t to look at the positives or the negatives of organ transplant, but rather to explore how our view of death has changed so that the technology of organ transplant could evolve and improve. The author compares how in North America (most especially in the US and Canada), the concept of brain death has generated minimal discussion unlike in Japan. Lock studies how Japan has embraced the development of the idea.
Twice Dead studies the historical, political, cultural and clinical motives for why the new criterion for death is readily accepted in North America, but (until recently) was rejected in Japan, and as a result, organ transplantation was very restricted over there. This timely and incisive discussion shows that death is not indisputable. In fact, the space between life and death is a culturally and historically constructed, but it is fluid and open to dispute.
Apart from the analysis of the popular representation and professional literature on the subject, Lock also borrows from extensive interviews conducted with transplant surgeons, donor families, physicians, political activists opposed to the recognition of brain death, members of the public in both North America and Japan. Twice Dead also confronts one of the most disturbing questions in our era, that death can never be fully understood merely as a biological event, but that cultural, legal, political, and medical dimensions are inescapably involved in the invention of brain death.
Death is a mystery to us all and what we consider to be dead can be interpreted in different ways. In Twice Dead, Margaret Lock tries to present the controversy surrounding the definition of death and how the advance of organ transplant has changed the meaning of death in some countries. It also explores how lack of public discussions and education on the topic has affected the US and Canada. If you’re interested in donating your organ or are in need of organ donation, then this book is for you as it provides an insight into the world of organ transplantation.
It is a common knowledge that there is a shortage of organs for human transplant. There are over 2.8 million patients’ worldwide currently undergoing dialysis, but only about 3% of that number receive kidney transplants annually. Even with the fact that not every dialysis patient is a good transplant candidate, the reality is that demand significantly exceeds supply. Add to the fact that demand is increasing faster than supply means that the shortage problem will continue growing.
The Global Organ Shortage was put together by three economists. If you consider the fact that one of them, David Kaserman, has always been outspoken about providing incentives for donation, it is no surprise that the book concludes the way it does (favoring incentives). The nine-chapter book has excellent flow with each chapter building on the momentum of the one before it. In the first chapter, the authors define the problems surrounding global organ shortage while in the final chapter, the arguments of the authors are reviewed.
In the book, David Kaserman, Rigmar Osterkamp, and T. Randolph Beard surveyed and evaluated nearly the entire existing literature on organ shortage and the possible solution. They concluded their research by saying the best way to increase supply is to compensate organ donors including the cadaveric and the living. Their analysis does not merely stop at compensation as they also examine changing the donor rules currently in place, improving methods of collections, organ swaps and chains, demand management (in a bid to avoid dialysis in the case of kidney disease as well as obesity) and several other topics.
The second chapter of the book takes a look at the evolution of organ transplant policies across the globe and how they are universally based on the idea of “altruism.” The third chapter looks at how these policies affect individuals. Primarily, each chapter explores a different topic and how it is affected by the organ shortage currently being experienced.
The Global Organ Shortage is a brilliant guide to the literature of organ donation, which is why it is the number one literary source for anyone who wants to understand the cause, the effects, and the solution to the global organ transplant shortage.
Matching Organs with Donors is a sensitive ethnography by Marie-Andrée Jacob that divulges the mindsets and methods of donors, patients, administrators, gray-sector workers, doctors and sellers in Israel’s kidney transplant bureaus for the living. The book tells how viable matches are pinpointed between recipient and donors using terminologies “borrowed” from definitions of kinship. The author paints a subtle portrait of the shifting lines between organ donor/seller, the patient, their brokers, and hospital staff who regularly accept organs that are obtained through questionable means.
In the book, the author describes how bureaucratic protocols, medical procedures, and documentary practices are interwoven to allow the transplantation of kidneys from living donors. Most of the documented action occurs in Israel at a time when selling of one’s organ wasn’t illegal. Ethical committee and hospital administration only sanctioned proposed donations when they were satisfied that the motive was purely altruistic.
A donor-recipient couple was expected to show existing proof of friendship or evidence that they are both members of the same family. Most people were aware that a lot of organ donation made from one “friend” to another usually involved payment. The exponential increase in the number of “altruistic” donations over a brief period was enough grounds for suspicion. However, even with the awareness of the realities on the ground, a lot of “donations” still scaled through the layers of psychological evaluation and bio-ethical scrutiny.
The author was more interested in how things worked and how this organic machinery moved forward. She also makes mention of the technological development in the field of medicine helping to expand the pool of potential donors further than the tight-knit group of genetic kin. According to her findings, it was partly to blame for creating the disturbing category of venal/altruistic transactions.
Matching Organs with Donors is built solely around personal stories of matches told by health professionals, patients, intermediaries, as well as the interaction between regulatory committees. Each story is played out around micro-events or moments, in which specific kinship practices, and bureaucratic legality shows its face. The book analyzes the construction and deployment of kinship in each of these moments as well as how they get entangled with bureaucratic legalities.
This book deals with both living organ transplantation (such as the transplantation of non-vital organs like a kidney) from a healthy donor and the transplantation of vital organs from the deceased. While it is clear that both cases are examples of transplantation, it is necessary to differentiate between both cases from the beginning as each situation carries its ethical problems and questions.
A lot of authors such as Romanus Cessario, Janet Smith, O.P., and Thomas L. Cook have all touched on the subject of living organ transplantation, but their works were noticeably from a Catholic perspective. This is because in the past 75 years there has been a lot of intra-ecclesial debate surrounding the ethics of living organ transplantation.
The notion held today that living organ transplantation is an ethically responsible form of self-gift and charity wasn’t one that was shared by a lot of Catholic ethicists and theologians. Back in the 1940s and 50s, a lot of Catholic thinkers found it hard to accept that living organ transplantation was ethically permissible.
A good portion of the book deals with the underlying issues surrounding the transplantation of vital organs. It also explores the somewhat vague borderline that crosses living and dead organ transplantation. Currently, only a person that has been declared dead is allowed to donate their vital organs. This aptly named “dead donor rule” is meant to preserve the “do no harm” part of the Hippocratic Oath thereby ensuring that as the physician carries out the act of transplantation, he or she doesn’t kill and he or she doesn’t harm the donor. Ironically, this area is where physicians have the most complications because once the donor dies, the organs, particularly the vital organs, start deteriorating, and sometimes it deteriorates too rapidly for a transplant to be successful.
This causes a lot of problems for those that support vital organ transportation as they would prefer to get the organ it starts deterioration. Instead of trying to go against the “dead donor rule directly,” some advocates have chosen to circumvent the problem by modifying the definition of death. The neurological distinction for death (brain death) came about partly because of this situation. Since the “death” of the brain sometimes occurs before the organs start to deteriorate severely, it allows for a more extended window for transplant and an increased success rate.
The Ethics of Organ Transplantation provides a detailed as well as a multi-perspective view on the status quo of organ donorship and transplantation.