Can Doctors Play God?

by TL13 on February 2, 2015 - 6:25pm

The article “Widow of alcoholic suing to change policy restricting liver transplants” by Sean Mallen was published on January 29, 2015 on Global News.

Debra Selkirk, the wife of an alcoholic, is planning on changing the policy about transplants. Her husband Mark was suffering from liver failure since 2010 and his only hope for survival was a liver transplant. However, the policy in Ontario allows doctors to deny organs to alcoholics if they can’t prove that they have been sober for 6 months. The patient’s doctor didn’t want to do the surgery because he claimed that alcoholics would only waste the organ. But when Debra Selkirk offered a piece of her liver, the doctor refused because he didn’t want to waste money on the surgery. A few days later, Mark Selkirk passed away. Now, Debra Selkirk is suing Toronto General Hospital by initiating a constitutional challenge over the policy. She argues that alcoholism isn’t a character flaw, and that it is indeed a disease. She doesn’t have the money to hire a counsel, so she’s going to represent herself. One of her arguments will include University of Pittsburgh’s study, which showed most alcoholics that receive liver transplants do very well. On the other hand, the CEO of the foundation that sets policies on donations responded that the study is a minority opinion, and that the greater results of the study are poor for the people who do receive a liver transplant before being sober for 6 months. The policy is currently being under-review; however, there is no intention on changing the policy restricting alcoholics.

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Debra Selkirk is still trying to do all she can to change the policy even after her husband’s death. However, I believe what the readers should concentrate on is the doctor refusing to “waste” money on the surgery to save a man’s life. Basically, Mark Selkirk passed away because of the doctor and how he didn’t give the patient a chance to prove that he could get better with a new liver. It’s as if the doctor played God and said that it was Mr. Selkirk’s time. It isn’t right for a doctor to choose whether or not they want to save someone’s life (as if they are playing God) and that’s why I believe the way they make these decisions should be improved.

I believe Global News to be a reliable source because it has been in business since 1994 and the reporter/author is an experienced veteran when it comes to covering worldwide events.


Your article is really good! You related the important facts so everybody can understand what happened without reading the original article. The way you summarized the situation touched me because I think nobody should decide who earns a second chance, since everybody should be able to get one. Thus, I agree with you when you say that Doctors should not take that kind of decisions. However, I think that what Debra Selkirk is doing now, even if her husband died, is as important as "the doctors playing God" because she will maybe be the one who will make it change. Therefore, I think we should support Debra Selkirk in her challenge over the policy.

I think your source is reliable because I did some research on Sean Mallen ( and he has a lot of experience as a journalist and also a good reputation. Also, I found some other articles relating the same story on and, so I think your source is reliable.