The increase in organ donation results in it being sold as a means of gaining income for many persons in the Jamaican society. It results in the body being viewed as a utilitarian object rather than a metamorphic entity that people can call their own. The ways involved in obtaining organs for usage by medical researchers are inhumane with limited emphasis being placed on the effects the process have on members of the society.
Purpose of Study:
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the social, economic and ethical issues associated with organ donation and to outline the different methods that could be implemented to regulate the extraction of organs from humans.
What are the main economic, social and ethical implications of organ donation in the Jamaican society?
What are the different ways in which one may try to obtain organs for sale or scientific studies?
What impact does the harvesting of organs have on economical developments in different countries?
What are the implications of the uses of organs in the future of health care in Jamaica?
Organs donation accounts for:
1. An increase in the black market
2. exploitation of the human body and
3. leads to the misconception that once a donor gives an organ, the recipient of the organ will survive.
The results obtained from the study will help to enhance information that will educate the public, future researchers and medical professionals about the ways to reduce the economic, social and ethical impacts of organ donation.
Organ donation is important in improving the quality and the quantity of life of individuals in need of organs in the society. However, the need for increase in organ donation is often affected by ethical, economic and social impacts associated with both the recipients and the donors of the organs. It is with this that an in-depth research was conducted to find out the ways involved in obtaining kidneys for medical usage and the effects the process may have on individuals within the society. Findings showed that once a more structured system is implemented to regulate organ donation, there will be an increase in the number of organs donated and a reduction in the impacts stated above.
What is organ donation and what are the different ways in which one may try to obtain organs for sale or scientific studies?
Wilkinson (2011) states that organ donation is the removal of tissues and organs with consent from owners or decision makers, such as family members, for the main purpose of transplanting them into other persons. She suggests the many routes in which persons may obtain organ from donors. These include buying it on the black market as it is the cheapest and easier route to go or it may be stolen from the body of deceased persons which poses the risk of exploitation leading to the development of ethical issues. She alludes to the point that the word “donation” suggests a willing gesture or that permission must be given to facilitate the process of acquiring the organ being transplanted.
This is further supported by the fact that humans, before they die, may sign an agreement to have their body donated to medicine and therefore is subjected to organ extraction or even medical researching. Similarly to the views of Wilkinson, Andrews and Nelkins (2001) believes that it is morally incorrect for the body to be exploited by medical professionals and wealthy business men. They support the argument that before medical professionals can begin extracting organs for donation, they should first receive consent from patients and family members of the patients.
This is however contradicted by Barnett and Kaserman (2006) who are of the opinion that once the benefit of extracting organs includes saving the life of individuals, it should never have to come down to a consent form to continue the procedure. They are not indicating that consent is not important, however, just by the fact that the patient has signed over all rights of his body to medical professionals to provide treatment and certain important diagnosis; it should not be a problem for organs to be extracted to carry out various studies to improve the quality and quantity of life.
As stated by Herring (2002), there may two types of organ donors: living donors and deceased donors (brain dead). In order for the organs of the deceased to be used, there must be enough oxygen in the organ required to last for 18 hours. He is of the opinion that these organs should be acquired by signing of consent forms by family members or by the patient himself before death. When the patient is conscious, he should inform family members his plan to donate organs so as to prevent any disputes after his death. He sees the body as more than an entity that hosts organs. Rather, it is a part of a person’s persona and what makes them who they are. The body should be viewed as a patient one that still has rights and should still be respected.
What impact does the harvesting of organs have on economical developments in Jamaica?
Firstly, with an increase in the demand for organ donation, there poses strong economical problems amongst various persons involved in the above said situations. Due to its importance, organs are very expensive and may not be accessible by members of the poorer class (Kaserman, 2006). This is problematic as it may result in organs being acquired illegally. It is important to note that for any member of the society (generally that of the poorer class), an organ sale on the black market is much more cost effective than having medical personnel performing the extraction process. Furthermore, this may result in the exploitation of individuals exposed to the black market as professionals for example doctors and medical researchers also purchase kidneys and other organs from the black market, thereby drastically increasing the price of the organs once it reaches in a more formal setting (Wilkinson 2011).
This act has created a link between both economic and legal issues as the black market has been deemed illegal in countries such as India, Canada and the United States. Serious consequences may also develop from being an active participant in the black market that could result in jail time or even the payment of fines much greater than that of what the kidneys were sold for. On a more important note, as stated by Taylor (2005), the problems associated with the development of the black market can be alleviated if a more structured system for selling and obtaining organs was implemented. It would help to increase the amount of people willing to donate kidneys and would allow for a cheaper and easily accessible market, making it more economically friendly to members of the poorer class.
According to (Brezin 2010) “…if an incentive is given to donors, more organs may be given to the health centers to meet the demand of the organs required.” In other words, each time an individual donates an organ, he or she will be given money for the organ donated. Compensation accounts for hospital visits and follow up examinations, counseling and screen testing to see if the donor is physically and mentally fit, and surgery. However, while there may be an increase in the number of organs donated, it may begin to reduce any profit that might be made by the organizations due to the increase in incentives to compensate the donors.
What are the implications of the uses of organs in of health care?
According to Taylor (2005), “there have been numerous deaths due to the failure of organ transplant in patients because of the decrease in organ donation.” In countries such as China and the United States of America, the waiting list for organs is long and approximately 11 individuals die per day from the need of an organ.
Even though organizations such as the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network have been put in place with the aim of educating people about the importance for organ donation, there is still a shortage of organs in the health care system. But why is this so? Organ donation may be beneficial for the recipient, but it often brings struggles to the donor.
When organ transplant is successful, approximately 3.5 years is added to the life span of the recipient thus enabling him or her to live a normal and fulfilling life with hardly any complications Bainham (2002). This approximation has helped to relax the psycho-social of family members that were once with the struggle of obtaining organs for their loved ones. However, Andrew and Nelkins (2001) argues the fact that in the case of the live donor, the psychological aspect of dealing with surgery, medical visits and complications months after surgery is the contributing factor that may allow for them not participate in organ donation. More importantly, financial struggles associated with donating such as hospital visits, transportation and follow up examination is overwhelming as donors are often expected to take care of the cost of donation as the system is one which is voluntary.
In the Jamaican context, Aaron (2009) supports the fact that establishing an organ and tissue bank will help to save lives and also improve on the quality of life. He elaborates on the point that despite its importance, many Jamaicans are still against the establishment of an organ bank due to cultural and religious reasons. Many Jamaicans are discouraged because of the long waiting list and the shortage of organs.
Aaron questions the processes which will be implemented in selecting individuals who will be able to acquire organs and believes that acquiring organs should not be based on how much profit may be made, but rather form an altruistic perspective. Similarly, in an article found in the Gleaner (2000) entitled Organ Transplantation, it was discovered that more than 400 patients are awaiting kidney in the country. It also brings across the light that organs are in fact needed in Jamaica.
The study will involve evaluating the social, economic and ethical issues associated with organ donation and outlining the different methods that could be implemented to regulate the extraction of organs from humans. This will be spearheaded by the following research questions:
1. What is organ donation and what are the different ways in which one may try to obtain organs for sale or scientific studies?
2. What impact does the harvesting of organs have on economical developments in Jamaica?
3. What are the implications of the uses of organs in of health care?
The targeted population for this study is the Jamaican society due to the many issues that have prevented the steady transplantation of organs needed.
Data collection methods will be from both primary and secondary sources. Data will be collected from the works of previous researchers such as published books and Newspaper articles.
The main instrument to collect data will be through an interview with 5 medical professionals. The interview questions will be surrounded on the importance of organ donation and will consist of 8 structured questions. These questions will collectively be geared towards answering the research question.
The research will take place over a 5 months period in which drafts of the literature review will be handed in, compile interview questions, administer the question and then analyse the data received.
The limitation to this study is that not the entire Jamaican population can be studied and therefore only selected hospitals will be focused on.