Bioethics News

Allocating Organs to Cognitively Impaired Patients

January 26, 2017

(NEJM) – Proponents of transplantation for such patients argue that cognitive function should not be a basis for allocating organs because it allows health care providers to decide that some lives are more valuable than others. Opponents believe that cognitive impairment is one of several legitimate criteria on which allocation decisions may be based. Because organs are scarce, a decision to transplant one into a patient with cognitive impairment will often mean that another patient with no (or milder) impairment will die for lack of a transplant. Furthermore, difficulties in following postoperative recovery programs and adhering to immunosuppressive regimens could limit the benefits of transplantation for cognitively impaired patients.

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