Liver Transplant Ethical Dilemma

by audrey.dussault on February 2, 2015 - 1:05pm

Audrey Dussault

Ethics Blog Post

Gabriel Flacks

Due February 4, 2015


Liver Transplant Ethical Dilemma


The Liver transplant ethics: Should alcoholics be sober first article published January 28, 2015 at 12:35 on Cbc news is about a man called Mark Selkirk who was diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis and was told by the doctors that he would not have long to live without a liver transplant. This issue was brought up by Mark’s wife, because she claims this situation to be morally wrong. In Ontario, an alcoholic patient who needs a liver transplant must desist from drinking for a total of 6 months before being authorized and considered to be a possible patient for the Ontario’s policy. Debra Selkirk, Mark’s wife argues this is discrimination towards alcoholics and all doctors should be obligated to save as many lives as they can. The ethical dilemma is do alcoholism patient really have to wait to be sober for six months before being eligible for a liver transplant or does this abstinence policy contravenes the charter and Canadians right to universal access health care. Ontario’s six month policy argues that if they transplant a liver to an alcoholism patient which has not been sober for over six months, there is a high chance of returning to drinking. They “have a responsibility to ensure the organs are used wisely” (cbc, 1). They also debated that if they give an organ to an alcoholic patient who then damages the new organ by ongoing drinking they’ve then created two deaths, instead of one. Contrary to Mrs. Selkirk who argues that the Ontario policy should not discriminate alcoholism and treat them as equally to any other patients. Alcoholism should not be seen as a character flaw but as a medical condition. To conclude, should alcoholism patient be abstinence from a liver transplant without being sober for six months while being at high risk of death or should this policy be retained and alcoholism patients be treated just as equally as any other liver transplant patient with a chance of drinking again.


Reference: Blog Post




Ethical Dilemma on Liver Transplant Alcoholic Patients.

I understand your point on the dilemma at hand and it’s the complexity of the situation that drew me to this article. Morally, it is wrong to refuse someone healthcare because of an addiction. However, I believe that if said person has wrecked their first liver by drinking, it wouldn't do any good if they wrecked another one because of their alcoholism. Also, organs that are eligible for transplants are rare, so I believe that no hospital would give a liver to someone who might waste it. It is true that waiting 6 months in order to sober up is quite extreme, even more if the person’s life is in immediate danger. However, hospitals should have a way to be guaranteed that their efforts would not go to waste. All in all, this is a difficult question that should be addressed with delicacy.

As for the source that you used, I believe that it is a reliable one. Cbc news is a news channel that is respected throughout Canada. It has been around since 1941, so it has notoriety. More importantly, it is the largest broadcaster of news in Canada. Since the article chosen is one that treats of local news, cbcnews is the way to go since it has stations or broadcast on a local, regional and national level.

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