Ethical considerations in forensic genetics research on tissue samples collected post-mortem in Cape Town, South Africa

BMC Medical Ethics 2017 18:66
Authors: Laura J. Heathfield, Sairita Maistry et al.
“The use of tissue collected at a forensic post-mortem for forensic genetics research purposes remains of ethical concern as the process involves obtaining informed consent from grieving family members. Two forensic genetics research studies using tissue collected from a forensic post-mortem were recently initiated at our institution and were the first of their kind to be conducted in Cape Town, South Africa.”
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Judgments of moral responsibility in tissue donation cases

Bioethics. 2017;00:1–11.
Authors: John Beverley, James Beebe
“If a person requires an organ or tissue donation to survive, many philosophers argue that whatever moral responsibility a biological relative may have to donate to the person in need will be grounded at least partially, if not entirely, in biological relations the potential donor bears to the recipient. We contend that such views ignore the role that a potential donor’s unique ability to help the person in need plays in underwriting such judgments. If, for example, a sperm donor is judged to have a significant moral responsibility to donate tissue to a child conceived with his sperm, we think this will not be due to the fact that the donor stands in a close biological relationship to the recipient. Rather, we think such judgments will largely be grounded in the presumed unique ability of the sperm donor to help the child due to the compatibility of his tissues and organs with those of the recipient.”
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F.D.A. Speeds Review of Gene Therapies, Vowing to Target Rogue Clinics

NYT, 17 November 2017
Authors: Sheila Kaplan, Denise Grady
“The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued new guidelines to speed the introduction of treatments involving human cells and tissues, including gene therapy. But the agency also said it would crack down on rogue clinics offering dangerous or unproven versions of those treatments.”
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Can options make us worse off? Choice, pressure, and paid kidney donation

JME Blog, 7 November 2017
Author: Julian J. Koplin
“Paying people to donate a ‘spare’ kidney might help alleviate the current shortage of transplantable organs. However, doing so would conflict with a principle widely accepted within the medical community since the earliest days of organ transplantation: that bodily organs should not be bought and sold. My paper focuses on one important facet of the organ market debate: the question of whether it can be bad to have the option of selling one’s kidney.”
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A quiet revolution in organ transplant ethics

Journal of Medical Ethics 2017;43:797-800.
Authors: Caplan A, Purves D
“A quiet revolution is occurring in the field of transplantation. Traditionally, transplants have involved solid organs such as the kidney, heart and liver which are transplanted to prevent recipients from dying. Now transplants are being done of the face, hand, uterus, penis and larynx that aim at improving a recipient’s quality of life. The shift away from saving lives to seeking to make them better requires a shift in the ethical thinking that has long formed the foundation of organ transplantation. The addition of new forms of transplants requires doctors, patients, regulators and the public to rethink the risk and benefit ratio represented by trade-offs between saving life, extending life and risking the loss of life to achieve improvements in the quality of life.”
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Increasing organ donation rates by revealing recipient details to families of potential donors

J Med Ethics, September 2017
Authors: David Shaw, Dale Gardiner
“Many families refuse to consent to donation from their deceased relatives or over-rule the consent given before death by the patient, but giving families more information about the potential recipients of organs could reduce refusal rates. In this paper, we analyse arguments for and against doing so, and conclude that this strategy should be attempted. While it would be impractical and possibly unethical to give details of actual potential recipients, generic, realistic information about the people who could benefit from organs should be provided to families before they make a decision about donation or attempt to over-rule it.”
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Organ Donation: Presumed Consent and Focusing on What Matters

JME Blog, 25 September 2017
Author: Rebecca Brown
“It makes intuitive sense that presumed consent systems would increase organ donation rates, and those who fail to support their introduction often come under criticism. Such criticism tends to assume that failure to support presumed consent is due to a failure to properly recognise the importance of organ donation or a sentimental or squeamish attitude towards bodies as well as oversensitivity towards those who are hesitant about organ donation. Yet, even if one is very concerned with increasing organ donation rates, there are grounds for scepticism about the helpfulness of presumed consent systems as a means of achieving this.”
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Scotland to introduce soft opt-out system for organ donation

The Guardian, 28 June 2017
Author: Severin Carrell
“Scottish ministers are to introduce a new system of organ donations based on presumed consent in an effort to increase life-saving organ transplants. The change of policy follows the introduction in Wales of a presumed consent system in December 2015, which led to a rise in organ donations and an increase in the number of families agreeing to donations. Last year there were 39 organs transplanted in Wales using its deemed consent system out of 160 organ transplants. Only 6% of people opted out of the system. The Scottish government’s decision to follow suit will increase pressure on ministers in London and possibly in Northern Ireland to introduce similar reforms. ”
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A quarter of kidney donors are living: what you need to know to be a donor

The Conversation, 19 June 2017
Author: Holly Hutton
“At any one time, more than 1,400 Australians are on an organ transplant waiting list. The most common organs in demand are kidneys, followed by the liver and lung. While the number of deceased organ donors in Australia has doubled since 2009, rates of live donor transplantation – where a person donates one kidney or, rarely, a portion of their liver – are relatively static. The Australian government gives A$4.1 million to run the Supporting Living Organ Donors program. This scheme includes reimbursing employers for sick leave for those who donate an organ, as well as other initiatives that aim to remove financial barriers to organ donation.”
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