Medical Ethics Essay
The field of medical ethics is one is of severe complexity, diversity and covering a wide range of topics in the medical world. Within medical ethics it is especially important to consider religious principles and the effect they have on the options for religious believers and effects on faith. One of the key issues for debate, considered to be the most controversial and varying is organ transplantation and organ donation. Religious principles and ethical values directly affect the outcome of an organ transplantation or donation, and for many faiths they should be upheld in all circumstances, even in a matter of life or death. Many medical developments in organ donation are often very controversial and use cutting edge research and development which many religious believers deem unacceptable and religious principles should be upheld. In the words of Albert Einstein ‘science without religion is dumb, religion without science is deaf’. Science and religion therefore must co-operate and coincide in the complex field of organ donation.
The first successful transplantation was in 1945 however the idea of transporting tissue or organs from a deceased or living donor has been around since the 3rd century. There are many religious faiths that would reject organ transplantation. There are a huge number of people waiting for a donation organ, as of April 2012 there are currently 7288 people waiting for an organ in the UK, however in the year 2011-2012, 3960 organ transplantation did take place. There has also been a 50% increase in organ donations given since 2008 (as of April 2013) , however it is estimated that 1000 people die every year in the UK waiting for an organ, even though one single person has the ability to change 6-10 peoples’ lives.
An import issue and development of the organ transplantation/medical ethics is the use of an ‘opt in’ system which is applied in the UK. Willing donors must register online or through a form via the NHS to become a donor. You can choose which organs you wish to be donated, many feel that they do not wish to donate their eyes, more so their vital organs such as the heart or a kidney. It can also be the expressed wish of the relatives of the deceased to give consent of behalf of them. With the average of 9 thousand people needing and organ each year and only a third of this receiving one many feel that the system needs drastically changing in order to save more lives. One option is to go for an ‘opt out’ system like that of Italy and France; there has been extensive research by the Taskforce who note a direct correlation between high donation rates and an ‘opt out’ system. As Britain the lowest donation rate in Europe this seems to be a feasible approach in order to save more lives. The system would mean that you would have to actively ‘opt out’ of donation your organs.
However a third of people who donate organs already feel that an opt out system would take the altruistic nature of the UK system. The argument for an ‘opt out’ system is one which is hotly debated in the UK, most recently, The Welsh Assembly held a bill vote on it. It is imperative to understand different religious beliefs when looking at this issue in particular.
Sanctity of life is a primary Christian principle which is important to investigate when looking at organ transplantation and human life. It is defined simply as “life is of intrinsic value and should be respected and protected”. This shows the theist view to be that life is sacred regardless of religion or race etc. and as we are created “in the image of God” who is omnipotent and omnnibelvelent it is our job to preserve the life that God has given us, as he (god) is the only one who can give or destroy life. Therefore it is predominantly Pro-life on debates on organ donation and other topics to do with Human life.