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jca's avatar

What do you think the criteria should be for people to receive donor organs?

Asked by jca (36043points) March 26th, 2012

There has been some controversy surrounding Dick Cheney’s receipt of a heart transplant, as he is in his early 70’s. I also found out (today on the Today Show) that someone with money, like him, could register for multiple donor sites, by having private plane available to receive the organ from various sites, whereas a poor person would likely have only their local site available to them, if at all.

People die each year waiting for organs to be donated (heart, lungs, liver). There are more people needing organs than there are organs donated. Do you think there should be a cap on the age of recipients who receive organs? What do you think the criteria should be for recipients?

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18 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

Seems to me like the Cheney episode is a perfect example of a free market medical care system. He has the money, he has the clout, so he gets the heart. This is how a true capitalist would expect the system to work – money, and by extension, the market, make anything available for a price.

Remember that in pure capitalism, there is no such thing as morality, or right and wrong. There is only profit – a willing buyer and a willing seller. (The whole idea of organ selling is based on truth – this really happens).

So Cheney getting a replacement heart parallels perfectly the republican/conservative ethic. It reflects their world view.

Why would anyone expect anything else ?.

picante's avatar

Our medical science is well ahead of our ethics/politics here. I don’t know the answer, but I’ll say that from a strictly personal/selfish point of view, no age is too young to donate, no age is too old to request. I honestly don’t see age as factor. (I’m assuming that one might view the organ would be better “spent” in a younger person, but we can’t know that.)

As to the capitalist aspect, again I’m not passing a moral judgment here, this buying/selling aspect is no different from any other service that is offered “for a price.” The rich have advantages over the poor in all kinds of ways—here’s another.

Were there to be criteria, I suppose they’d relate to relative health, relative lifestyle choices, etc. The criteria would somehow provide a relative determination as to the long-term viability of the transplanted organ.

bkcunningham's avatar

Dick Cheney had waited for over a year for the heart he received. My goodness people.

chyna's avatar

Dick Cheney has a heart?~

bkcunningham's avatar

He has a changed heart now, @chyna.

josie's avatar

The criteria should be your ability to buy the organ, from somebody who wants to sell theirs, and pay for the transplant.
The only way you know if you own something is if you can sell it to whomever you want for the price they will pay. Since we are not permitted to do this, neither you nor I own our own hearts.
But of course we do. So somewhere along the line somebody is stealing your heart and giving it to somebody you might not like.
What kind of bullshit is that?

Mariah's avatar

I tend not to think that ability to pay is what makes a person deserving of life, but then I’m basically a communist.~

josie's avatar

Then at that point it will be determined by whomever has the biggest guns. Good luck in the long term with that one.

CWOTUS's avatar

Of course everyone deserves life, no question of that. But… it doesn’t necessarily follow that “everyone else” should have to pay to ensure that.

I agree with the point that I think @josie is trying to make: we should have a free market in organs. Why not? After all, we wouldn’t have vegetables if we waited for the government or an altruist to make them available, or if we did they’d be inedible, scarce and subject to the whims of those who chose to donate them. Which is pretty much the case with organs. Except for the ‘edible’ part. I’m not advocating for cannibalism.

As it now stands, the doctors who do the harvesting and the transplanting make money, the insurers make money, the attorneys making all of the rules make money… and the few patients who receive organs live better lives (or “at all”) because of the relatively few altruistic people who will donate their loved ones’ organs. (Because you don’t actually have much say in the matter once you’re dead.)

If there were a market for these things, then there’s no reason on earth why they shouldn’t be harvested and marketed (blindly, if you’ll pardon the pun) to those who can and will pay. For one thing, there would be a better supply if that were the case, and for another (since there would be increasing supply) there would be more available.

But if you want to think that this should be “a free donation from the most willing to the most needy”, then you may continue to see heart-rending stories of people hanging on to life at extraordinary cost and dying just before their name comes up on a list.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Nimis's avatar

I think it should go to the better human being—regardless of age. Better to go to someone’s loving grandfather than a young neo-Nazi punk.

Unfortunately, this is impossible to measure.

augustlan's avatar

Barring other medical issues, I think it should be first come, first served (in order of urgency). Money shouldn’t play into it at all. At some point, it would be great if older people voluntarily gave up their spots on the list, but a 70 year old who is in otherwise great shape still has a lot of life left.

tedd's avatar

There is no reason a person over the age of 70 (heck probably even 65), with a long history of medical problems (not even counting his heart issues).. should be receiving a heart transplant. They’re like the hardest organ to come by, and I can tell you right now there’s probably someone in the 30–50 year old age bracket who needs a heart.

Cheney bought his heart, and some other poor soul is probably going to die because of it. End of story.

tedd's avatar

@CWOTUS Are you F*cking kidding me? I guess we should just leave all the people without all the money to die because they can’t afford organs? Hey ya know Rupert Murdoch has heart issues too, why don’t we give that 81 year old a heart transplant instead of a 50 year old father of 5? The father of five doesn’t have money, screw him.

MONEY should have absolutely nothing to do with health care and health. Because then the primary concern isn’t the well being of people…. it’s MONEY.

You people f*cking disgust me. If your dream world ever come about, I will be a terrorist blowing you a**holes up.

bkcunningham's avatar

I just read an article that weight loss surgery can reverse and even cure Type II diabetes. Should we as taxpayers pay to give the weight loss surgery to everyone who can’t afford it as well?

jca's avatar

@bkcunningham: I heard from someone that did the research with one insurance company that two years of paying for diabetes treatment = the cost of weight loss surgery. So weight loss surgery is more practical for them, because they will eliminate years of hospital bills, amputations, eye problems, insulin and other meds, etc. So if taxpayers are going to pay for years of that, why not pay for weight loss surgery and be done with it?

CWOTUS's avatar

Whether you like it or approve of it or not, @tedd, money does make the world go ‘round. And it’s because of free markets that we can buy things today without a lot of thought that people could barely even dream of just a few years ago. Allowing the rich the right to purchase what they want today will enable (could enable) a market that enables anyone to get the organs that they need at “reasonable prices” some day that no one currently envisions.

It’s not magic, by any means, but it has that appearance to some.

And if you don’t control your anger, I suggest that you’ll be in need of medical services long before I will.

tedd's avatar

@CWOTUS You should go back to the middle ages if you want such a blatantly transparent monarchical/oligarchical society.

@bkcunningham @jca Thank you for beating me to it @jca….. Besides @bkcunningham I think comparing a surgery such as that to a heart transplant is incredibly apples to oranges. We shouldn’t base our choices in who receives medical care on who has more money, that goes against the very principles we have all been raised on (what the hell would Jesus, Allah, and Moses think???).... Dick Cheney has lived 71 years. He has been incredibly successful and will go down as one of the more remembered people in history. He has lived his life. Were he not a soul-less monster he probably would’ve looked at the situation and realized the heart would be far better placed in someone who has another 20–40 years of life to go, and a young family who needs them…. rather than a bitter old man with 5 years (if he’s very lucky) left.. with nothing left to accomplish.

And thanks to people like you guys, society enabled that soul-less beast to make the wrong choice.

Hey if we switch to your plans, what’s to stop people from just sacrificing themselves ahead of time. If I’m flat broke and my daughter needs life saving expensive surgery (that I can’t afford because I live in your corrupt-money-driven-“world)... why do I not offer to sell my organs to a dying rich man upon my death, and then commit suicide? What’s to stop others from killing me to collect the money (like a life insurance scam)? Do you guys even stop to think about the world you would willingly create for the sake of pure free-market-capitalism?

CWOTUS's avatar

Are you flat out of your mind, @tedd? Do you ever buy groceries, for example, or computers, iPads, cars and houses… and give any thought to where those came from or how they were produced at more or less reasonable prices, in great quantity and nearly anywhere you would want to find them?

I’ll give you a hint: It’s not dependent on people’s benevolence. Judging from the tone of your responses in this thread, I would sure as hell hate to have to rely on your benevolent attitude.

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