An AP article headlined HIV infections from donated organs raise concerns caught my eye. It seems a high risk donor infected four recipients with hepatitis and the virus that causes AIDS. The case has caused medical ethicists to determine it just might be helpful if patients know more about whose organs they are to receive.
Whoa. Wait a minute here. Is the cart before the horse ? The transplant system is considered safe. There have been minimal problems, but it is not 100% safe. Out come the confidentiality rules. Transplant surgeons generally decide what information regarding the donor is given to the recipients and their families.
The recipients in the case above would not know to this day had one of them not gone through blood tests for a re-transplant. That to me is about as frightening as it gets.
The article states the donor filled out a screening questionnaire that revealed he/she had engaged in high risk behavior. The hospitals where the surgeries were performed were so notified but none would reveal what information was passed on to the patients.
My question is why was the donor allowed to donate in the first place? There are a whole lot of ethics questions here.
One, the donor knowing his/her own history; the organization who procured the organs knowing the donor was at high risk and the surgeon knowing the donor was high risk. Everyone but the bloody patient! Which life is most at risk here?
I can't imagine why an ethicist has to struggle over what information the recipient should have nor why an at risk donor is even in the mix.
It is an outrage.