Organ Donation: A Right or a Wish

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A family is grieving. Their seventeen year old daughter was just pronounced brain dead after extensive treatment following a motor vehicle accident left her life sustained only by machines working in place of her vital organs. Midwest transplant team was notified to talk to the family about saving other’s lives by donating their daughter’s organs. On the patient’s driver’s license was a little heart showing her wish to be an organ donor, but because of her minor status, her wish was not legal consent. According to Midwest Transplant Network (2010), Kansas was designated a consent state as of July 1st, 2010. This means that anyone over the age of 18 can legally register to be a donor and not have that right revoked by next of kin after death. This is not the case for minors. Parents or legal guardians can still decide not to donate their child’s organs after death, even if they have a driver’s license and have been denoted a donor by the DMV. From the case above, the family refusing to donate their daughter’s organs creates an ethical dilemma with conflicting principles of patient autonomy and fidelity. Along with ethical principles, I see a dilemma between legal rights and moral values. Legally the parents have the right to make the decision for their minor child, but morally the nurse sees what the decision should be in order to provide for others as well as to allow the last wishes of a young girl be followed. “In the United States, over 106,000 people are awaiting organ donation” (Manuel, Solberg, & MacDonald, 2010, pg 229). While this number by itself is not necessarily increasing, it is not getting any lower because the number of organ donations has not yet been increasing. This has been due to family refusals, lack of kno... ... middle of paper ... Manuel, A., Solberg, S., & MacDonald, S. (2010). Organ donation experiences of family members. Nephrology Nursing Journal, 37(3), 229-237. Retrieved from CINAHL database. Molzahn, A., Starzomski, R., & McCormick, J. (2003). The supply of organs for transplantation: issues and challenges. Nephrology Nursing Journal, 30(1), 17-28. Retrieved from CINAHL database. Midwest Transplant Network. (2010, September). General Education Guide. Midwest Transplant Network. Westwood, KS, United States of America: Donate Life Kansas. Rodrigue, J., Cornell, D., & Howard, R.. (2009). Relationship of exposure to organ donation information to attitudes, beliefs, and donation decisions of next of kin. Progress in Transplantation, 19(2), 173-9. Retrieved November 17, 2010, from ProQuest Nursing & Allied Health Source. (Document ID: 1764979051).
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