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Organ List and Health Care and money
Steve Jobs was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in 2004. At the time he went through minimal treatment and lifestyle changes to avoid its death sentence and send the cancer into remission. It came back in 2008 and Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple took a leave of absence disclosing only that it was health related. We learned this summer he had uprooted from California to move to Tennessee where he had a better chance of quickly getting to the top of the Liver Transplant list.

 It is illegal to purchase an organ in the United States and it is also illegal to pay your way to a higher spot on the Donor Queue. It is unlikely that Jobs committed a crime in getting a liver so quickly but were he not a remarkably rich man with resources out the wazoo he would definitely have died from his rare form of Pancreatic cancer which kills more often than it doesn't. What specialists believe Jobs did was move to Tennessee where there was a shorter list and also join multiple lists across the country's many donor pools. Is this ethical? That's not an easy question. I want to say yes, since Jobs has the money and the capabilities to jump through the loopholes to save his own life shouldn't he be able to? And so what if he made large-scale donations on behalf of the doctors and hospitals that saved his life? Maybe he was genuinely charitable. But at the same time should money and free-market assumptions like his be able to do what those without can't? How many people with the same disease have died waiting and waiting and waiting at the bottom of the list? Of course this isn't Jobs fault, but isn't there a line we should draw where everyone deserves the same treatment?

From an ABC news article: "According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, 15,771 people are currently waiting for a liver in the United States. Last year, 1,481 people died waiting for a donor liver, almost all of which come from the recently deceased. The national average waiting time for a transplant is about a year, but it can average as little as a few months at some centers, organ experts said."

The experts also recommend that a person should join as many donor lists as possible. How this works is there are many concentric circles of donor lists across the country. You join a list at the local level and it draws you through the regional one and the national one. Every circle offers you a chance for an organ but if you live in the local area where one becomes available you have a better chance. The problem is most health care services only cover the medical examinations that get you one list. So it's only the super-rich like Jobs who can afford the costly medical examinations to get you onto multiple local and regional lists around the country.

Where should ethical lines be drawn in cases like this? Should Jobs not have been able to make the best use of his resources to guarantee his survival? In that case wouldn't the entire system require an overhaul where it is only need based and not geographical? I think it is a hazy representation of why the health care debate is so difficult. But even under a universal health care system the wealthy and capable will still be able to pay for the best and fastest treatment. Should the organ donor system exist outside this realm where it is universal to everyone? It's not about the level of care you get, it's about surviving based on availabilities.
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Latest Post: October 9, 2009 at 7:49 PM
Number of posts: 1
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