Inmates and Organ Transplants: An Ethical Dilemma

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In today’s medical field there is a profuse amount of room for ethical questioning concerning any procedure performed by a medical professional. According to the book Law & Ethics for Medical Careers, by Karen Judson and Carlene Harrison, ethics is defined as the standards of behavior, developed as a result of one’s concept of right and wrong (Judson, & Harrison, 2010). With that in mind, organ transplants for inmates has become a subject in which many people are asking questions as to whether it is morally right or wrong. In the ABC News article entitled Death-Row Inmates Seeks Organ Transplant by Bryan Robinson, the issue of a death-row prisoner in Oregon, by the name of Horacio Alberto Reyes-Camarena, receiving priority over a law-abiding citizen for a kidney transplant is being addressed. The state pays for Reyes-Camarena’s medical care, so it allows him to be placed ahead of others who have not broken any laws but simply cannot afford the procedure or the medication needed after the operation due to little or no insurance coverage. “That has outraged crime victim advocates, who cannot understand how the justice system can “reward” convicted murderers at the expense of innocent patients” (Robinson). Any given state has to provide medical care to its prisoners regardless of the reason the inmate is incarcerated. In an article by the Medical Ethics Advisor, Richard Demme, an associate professor and chair of the Ethics Committee at the University of Rochester, NY Medical Center states, “the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that withholding medical treatment from those who are incarcerated is cruel and unusual punishment, because prisoners are not allowed to seek healthcare for themselves. The court did not say which treatme... ... middle of paper ... ...her (Robinson).A person’s moral values [i.e. family, culture, society] serve as the basis for ethical conduct (Judson, & Harrison, 2010).This allows for many different issues and answers when dealing with this or any other ethical dilemma. If states continue to provide inmates with priority when it comes to organ transplants the cost of prisoner medical expenses will only increase, potentially causing serious economic problems in the future. Works Cited Judson, K, & Harrison, C. (2010). Law & ethics for medical careers. New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Organ transplants for inmates. (2011). Medical Ethics Advisor, Retrieved from Robinson, B. (n.d.). Death-row inmate seeks organ transplant. Retrieved from

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