Directed Altruistic Living Organ Donation: Partial but not Unfair

Hilhorst, Medard
January 2005
Ethical Theory & Moral Practice;Jan2005, Vol. 8 Issue 1/2, p197
Academic Journal
Arguments against directed altruistic living organ donation are too weak to justify a ban. Potential donors who want to specify the non-related person or group of persons to receive their donated kidney should be accepted. The argumentsagainst, based on considerations of motivation, fairness and (non-)anonymity (e.g. those recently cited by an advisory report of the Dutch Health Council), are presented and discussed, as well as the Dutch Government’s response. Whereas the Government argues that individuals have authority with regard to the allocation of their organs, partial considerations have not been sufficiently explored. In addition, it is argued that partial relationships govern human life, are significant and should be valued highly. These relationships are at the core of accepted living kidney donation between relatives (family members, partners, friends). Respecting the particular act of living donation goes beyond respect for autonomy; it touches upon our personal and social identity. Donation, e.g. of a kidney, is not undertaken strictly for the benefit of the recipient, but also to meet the moral standards we wish to set for ourselves. This consideration, rooted in a view of moral identity, provides the basis for many forms of directed donation that are both partial and justified. If the importance of this is not recognized, social policies can be neither adequate nor effective.


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