Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel: Who Gets the Liver?

[ 0 ] July 8, 2014 |

There are thousands of people awaiting vital organ transplants, but a serious shortage of those needed organs available. So who gets priority?

WATCH as Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, vice provost for Global Initiatives and Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, talks about the transplant process and how it’s decided who get life-saving organs at the Aspen Ideas Festival:

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urlWith an estimate of  15,000 people on the transplant list every year, how is precedence determined when there is a limited supply of available organs and only about 5,600 transplant surgeries are performed annually?

“There is a set of criteria, called ‘the melt criteria,’ which mostly allocates organs to the sickest people first,” says Dr. Emanuel, former special advisor on health policy to the director of the Office of Management and Budget and National Economic Council.

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If you ask the general public, Dr. Emanuel says, there are a lot more criteria than just the being the sickest to determine organ transplant priority. These criteria include: age, prognosis, good moral standing, number of transplants, and contribution to society.

Basically, people who will get the most use and do the most good with their second lease on life should get priority over the sick, elderly and criminals, he adds. But Dr. Emanuel thinks more factors should go into deciding who gets to live longer than someone else than such a small number of criteria, since there is such a huge shortage of organs.  The problem, he explains, is when it comes to something as serious as an organ transplant, ranking all those other criteria over each other makes it difficult to determine how the list should be made. One criteria may not be the best system, he Dr. Emanuel adds, but it is certainly the easiest.

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Category: Aspen Ideas Festival 2014

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About Ezekiel Emanuel: Ezekiel J. Emanuel is the Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, the Diane v.S. Levy and Robert M. Levy University Professor, and Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of [...]
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