Medical Ethics – Decision Scenarios

Colin Benton, a British citizen, died of renal disease in the summer of 1988 after a kidney transplant failed. Benton’s widow later revealed that the donor kidney had been obtained from a Turkish citizen who traveled to London for the surgery. The kidney donor was paid the equivalent of $4400 (in 1988 dollars). When asked why he sold the organ, the man explained that he needed the money to pay for medical treatment for his daughter. It was this case that led the British Parliament to outlaw organ sales.

Questions for this decision scenario:

1. On what ground might one claim that it is wrong for society to allow people to sell organs?

2. Is there a moral distinction between donating a kidney out of benevolence and selling one for financial gain?

3. If a father has no other way to raise money for surgery necessary to preserve the life of his child, would it be morally permissible for him to sell a kidney? Should we hold him morally blameworthy if, given the opportunity, he refused to do so?

4. Is selling one’s kidney different in any morally relevant way from selling one’s labor under potentially hazardous conditions (e.g. mining coal, driving a truck, serving in combat)

Type of assignment: Essay

Subject: Nursing


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