Biomedical ethics: Organ transplantation
In the third part of our series, Pierre Mallia looks at the controversial world of organ transplantation
It is generally considered that donation of organs is an altruistic human endeavour. Organs can be classified into regenerative, such as blood and bone marrow, and non-regenerative, such as kidneys, heart, liver, and corneas.
Often, when someone dies in an accident and the relatives arrive at the hospital, the medical team advise them on the possibility of donating the organs of the deceased. This is often met positively by the relatives as it engenders the sensation that the death was not in vain and could save other people's lives. It is wise that the family do not know who received the organs as this may cause feelings of obligation towards the family of the donor. In many places this secrecy is not imposed, but families of both recipients and donors must understand and have counselling to help them choose whether they wish to remain anonymous. Recipients should never be under