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Organ Donation: For Whose Sake?

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▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Carl H. Fellner, M.D., Department of Psychiatry RP-10, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA 98195.

Seattle, Washington

Ann Intern Med. 1973;79(4):589-592. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-79-4-589
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The genetically unrelated living kidney-donor volunteer, who comes forward and offers to donate one of his organs to someone in need who is unknown to him, has always been regarded with suspicion and distrust by the medical profession and is now barred altogether from donation. This issue is of interest because progress in tissue typing and matching will bring us fairly soon to the point where, for organ transplantation purposes, the equivalent of a monozygotic twin could be pinpointed in the population at large. I stipulate that volunteer donorship is an act of the highest morality undertaken by the donors out of an inner need, an act essentially for themselves. Those of the medical profession, however, apparently subscribe to that other morality that stresses pity and compassion, doing good to others for the sake of others. The motivation of the unrelated volunteer donor is therefore misunderstood and not honored, and he is rejected.





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