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Saturday, December 15th, 2012, 11:26 am

Transplants and Ethical Approval

YESTERDAY I had a conversation with my sister in law in Singapore, as she works on surgeries there, mostly transplants. The subject fascinates me because I am registered as an Organ Donor who also believes that terminally-ill patients should consider donating their organs as part of euthanasia that helps dodge the pain of dying. It’s not the same as organ harvesting, it’s a case of assessing how to increase overall survival of the collective. Yes, it’s a controversial subject, but ethics do change over time (or place) and if it’s all consensual and it increase communal benefit, e.g. survival, then why not entertain the idea? Here is part of the conversation:

(14/12/12 14:58:35) Anonymised: Hi bro, I’m sorry I haven’t reply to you..I fall asleep, been toxic this week..
(14:59:02) Roy: oh, tell me about it sis
(15:10:56) Anonymised: We have back to back liver transplant both cadaveric And living related donor..
(15:13:29) Anonymised: I’m on pager call for two weeks for the transplant and we have cases :)
(15:13:44) Anonymised: :(
(15:15:35) Roy: Oh, I didn’t realise it works like this..
(15:15:51) Roy: I spoke about this in the sauna last night
(15:17:51) Anonymised: You mean u talk about the transplant in a sauna?
(15:18:13) Roy: yes, hypothetically
(15:19:09) Roy: I said to a friend who is about 60, what if there was ethical approval for a terminally ill person to give a sibling with dodgy liver his/her own liver as part of the euthanasia, like live organ donor, pre-death
(15:45:36) Anonymised: Yes bro, just like last Monday..
(15:47:13) Anonymised: The patient donor is an road traffic accident victim, which is brain dead so the family gives the consent for organ retrieval but not all of his organ.
(15:48:41) Roy: oh, how timely a conversation I had… although the hypothetical situation I described was terminal cancer and the receiver perhaps a heavy drinker
(15:49:56) Anonymised: Here in SG, those who sign to be a donor and if time will come that they have an accident or they got terminal sickness the family are prepared that he or she will donate his or her organ..and the recipients here are listed…
(15:51:14) Roy: i am registered here
(15:52:45) Anonymised: If the donor dies of cancer, I’m not sure if they will retrieve the organs coz they will check the laboratory works like blood if they matches too then they will decide if they can do the transplant
(15:53:28) Anonymised: So, you have a donor card
(15:53:45) Roy: assuming the tumour has not spread to the donated organ and the donation is between siblings, I thought…
(15:54:02) Roy: Anyway, i carry my donor card in my wallet, to be on the safe side (time is valuable)
(15:56:13) Anonymised: Between siblings, still need to undergo check of blood groups and laboratory check up they need to be sure it matches..ESP. Kidney which is very sensitive organ
(16:09:12) Roy: Oh, see that’s where I don’t have sufficient knowledge.

Perhaps one day we’ll be able not only to breed replacements through pigs (which in itself is controversial as it devalues the life of other animals) but also people whose chance of survival is too slim and desire to help others is greater than to have a few more days of living agony.

All these issues, like depopulation or stem cells and abortion, are understandably controversial. I rarely discuss them.

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