Organ Transplants


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What is an organ transplantation?

It is the surgical removal of a failing or damaged organ and replacing it with a new one.

Background Information

  • Six types of organ transplants are performed in the United States - kidney, pancreas, liver, lung, heart and intestine.
  • There are 122,204 people on the waiting list and 11,242 donors (December 2015).
  • The kidney is the most needed organ with about 70,000 people waiting and a wait time of 5 years. The heart is the less needed organ with only about 140 people on the list.
  • Most major religions support organ donation.
  • It is illegal for donors in the U.S. to receive money for organs. There is a black market for organs especially in other countries where people are paid for their organs.


  • Organs can be used to extend and save lives.
  • One organ donor can save up to 8 lives.
  • The transplant recipient may no longer need ongoing maintenance treatment such as dialysis to keep them alive.
  • It can provide consolation to the deceased member's family knowing that there is some good that can come out of a tragedy by saving another life.
  • Can aide in medical research.


  • There is a chance of organ rejection. If a person receives an organ but then dies in a month, that can be thought of wasting a perfectly good organ.
  • Organ transplants are expensive. It may not be covered by health insurance.
  • An organ transplant is a major surgery for both donor and recipient. The surgery can be painful for both and there are risks involved during and after surgery.
  • Some people view organ transplants as intervening with life. They may believe that God should determine how long a person should live.
  • It can be difficult for the family of the donor to have the dying family member be on life support until the organs can be harvested for a recipient.


Number of people waiting for transplants.
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Nicholas Green - Organ Donor

Nicholas Green was an American 7-year old. He was vacationing in Italy with his family. Robbers mistakenly thought his family car was a jewelry delivery vehicle and chased their car in attempt to rob it. Gunshots were fired striking Nicholas in the head. Nicholas died, and his parents chose to donate his organs so others may live. His heart was transplanted to a 14 year old Roman boy; his liver donated to a 19 year old Sicilian woman; one kidney went to an 11 year old Sicilian boy; the other kidney was given to a 14 year old girl from Puglia; and his pancreas and corneas were given to three other people. The story made headline news and raised public awareness of organ donors. After the story aired there was an increase in the number of organ donors.


Dick Cheney - Organ Recepient

Former Vice-President Dick Cheney had suffered from five heart attacks. He received a heart transplant at the age of 71. He was on the waiting list for more than 20 months. People questioned if he should have been a recipient because of his age.

Steve Jobs - Organ Recepient

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, Inc. was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003. In 2009 he received a liver transplant. The donor had died in a car accident. On October 5, 2011 about 2 1/2 years after receiving the transplant, Steve Jobs died. There was controversy about his liver transplant. He was wealthy and could fly anywhere in the country. He was able to increase his chances of receiving a transplant by placing his name on multiple hospital listings. Some centers have shorter waiting lists. Although he lived in California, he had the transplant done in Tennessee.

Frank and Christian - Organ Recepients

An organ donation safes the lives of Frank, age 2, and Christian, age 17. On December 18, 2009 a liver became available for Frank. The director of the transplantation center knew they would not need the entire liver for Frank and the healthy liver could be split. Christian turned out to be a match and received the other part of the liver.


I believe that organ transplants should be legal because you are saving a life. The decision to donate or receive an organ should be an individual or family decision. As long as the person has agreed that they want to be a donor they should be allowed to do so.

A difficult decision is deciding who should receive an organ transplant. Some people are concerned that celebrities and affluent people get preferential treatment and are placed ahead of other critical in need people. I think who receives an organ should be based on how critical the need is for the recipient and not based on celebrity status or wealth.

If organ transplants were illegal, the death rate would increase. I think there would be an increase in the black market for organs. China used organs from prisoners for transplants. Although this saved lives, I don't think this should be allowed. The prisoners were not given a choice if they wanted to donate their organs. I also think that a person who is disabled should have the same fairness to to receive an organ as a person who is healthy.

Overall the pros outweigh the cons. Organ transplants allow people to have a second chance at life and they should be allowed.


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