Ethics at the End of Life in Transplant Recipients
Progress in transplantation (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) 2011 Mar; 21(1): 83-7
The field of transplantation is intended to try to save or improve people's lives. In some situations though, the length of a person's life is not as vital as the quality of that life. As a member of a transplant team, one must recognize the differences between quality and quantity and apply the ethical principles of autonomy, justice, nonmaleficence, and beneficence. When a lung transplant recipient became ill with posttransplant lymphoproliferative disease 10 months after her surgery, these ethical principles came to the foreground. This dynamic, vibrant woman, recently engaged, faced her own mortality with grace. There is a time for everything. When death is a long time coming, many people are referred to hospice care and the death is viewed as a blessing. This situation rarely occurs in the transplant field. Many people, whether professionals or laypersons, have a difficult time letting go. Our team and this very special woman all knew when it was time. Creating a warm and open environment in the intensive care unit helped her through the rhythms of transition in dying.
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2000 Annual Report: The U.s. Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients and the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network: Transplant Data: 1990-1999 Unknown author (United States. Department of Health and Human Services. Health Resources and Services Administration [HRSA]. Office of Special Programs. Division of TransplantationUnited Network for Organ Sharing [UNOS], 2000)