Who Deserves the Gift of Life? In recent U.S. history, there have been many deba

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Jan 8, 2023


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Who Deserves the Gift of Life?
In recent U.S. history, there have been many debates regarding the degree of human rights prisoners are entitled to, particularly in regard to health care. The debate is even more controversial in the arena of organ transplantation — since organ transplantation, unlike other medical therapies, requires an actual human supply of resources. Because donor organs are in short supply, there are more people waiting for a transplant than available organs. When a prisoner receives an organ, there is a high probability that someone else will die waiting for the next available organ. A response to this ethical dilemma states that felons who have a history of violent crime, who have violated others’ basic rights, have lost the right to receive an organ transplant.
But the Constitution of the United States has been written to protect certain prisoner rights. The Eighth Amendment has been specifically interpreted as assuring the rights of prisoners to health care access by stating: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” In fact, the Supreme Court ruled in 1976 that the state could not bar prisoners from access to organ transplants and other support services without violating these Eighth Amendment rights. So despite whatever ambivalent feelings individuals or communities may have about a prisoner’s access to organs, current laws are quite clear on the issue.
Some in the public have advanced the simplistic theory that prisoners are, on the whole, less deserving and contribute less to society than upstanding members of the community, and should therefore be passed over in allocating scarce organs. But some felons have been successfully rehabilitated and will one day be free to make future contributions. Moreover, many would argue that many unincarcerated members of society will not contribute significantly more than a prisoner. Allocating resources essential for life on the basis of “worthiness” judgments is unlikely to achieve social consensus because of the very nature of being capricious and arbitrary. It also undermines our belief in the basic equality of all people.
Assignment instructions:
Imagine that you are a leader with the National Kidney Foundation. Your responsibilities include determining who will receive a kidney once a donor becomes available. When an organ donor becomes available, all the patients in the pool are compared to that donor. Factors such as medical urgency, time spent on the waiting list, organ size, blood type and genetic makeup are considered.
In this case, two people, a federal prisoner, age 35, convicted of child abuse and human trafficking who currently has 15 years left on his sentence and a male, coal miner from West Virginia who is 36 years old and has 2 year old twin girls with his wife of 15 years. Both men matched for the available kidney at a 98% compatibility rate. Both men have are currently on weekly dialysis and have been been on the donor waitlist for more than two years. Both the convicted felon and the coal minor are exact matches for organ size, blood type and genetic make up, which means that whoever receives the kidney will likely experience a long life after transplant.
For this assignment, you will write a 4 -5 page paper (not including references) justifying how will you make the decision as to which person will receive the kidney. Compare and contrast your decision making using the Health Leader Framework of Utilitarianism and Deontology. Refer to your chapter to help you support your decision making, as well as at least four outside, peer reviewed references. This assignment should be written using APA 7th Ed.


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