Thursday, January 19, 2012

More Thoughts on Amelia Rivera

As is usually the case in Internet stories that go viral, Amelia Rivera's case is somewhat more complicated what I first thought.  Apparently, her family plans to use a live donor that they will recruit, which makes the situation appear much different.

Still, there is the problem that adult kidneys cannot be used in small children, so Amelia's donor would have to be a child.  I think there are some serious ethical and moral considerations that come into play when one is considering harvesting a kidney from a live child.

Yahoo news reported the following AP copy:

The issue the Riveras face is not simple, said Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics. For example, the blog notes that Chrissy Rivera told the hospital that "we plan on donating" the kidney because they come from a large family.

"Most adults can't donate an organ because it won't fit" a child, Caplan said. "You're starting to say you're going to use another child as a living donor, and that's ethically really trouble."

Although the issues brought to light in yesterday's news coverage change the picture a little bit, I still stand by what I said the day before yesterday.

Regardless of whether or not the living donor is a child, there is still, of course the ethical questions that are raised in terms of resources.  Even if the donor is a relative and the family funds the procedure themselves, will Amelia's surgery, post-operative care, and lifelong maintenance prevent a healthier, and cognitively normal child from receiving care?

Should it even matter?

I don't know all the answers, and I'm actually glad that Amelia's story went viral, because these are questions that deserve to be asked of the public conscience.  Granted, these are issues that are debated by the highest level of religious leaders and ethicists, and there are no easy answers.

Once again, I am hugely grateful that this is a decision I don't have to make.

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