Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

Monday: Live Organ Donations

At Monday’s Beyond Labels session, we’ll discuss organ donations–especially of kidneys, where living donors can provide an organ (humans have two of them) without undue risk.

While we selected the topic almost two weeks ago, “Maine Calling” has since had a program on the subject. Here’s a link to the “Live Organ Donation” segment, which aired on April 15.

Here’s a link to an NYT Op/Ed piece that sparked the suggestion that we cover the topic at this time: “Let People Sell Their Kidneys. It Will Save Lives.”

And here’s a link to a 2018 article examining the question “Would government compensation of living kidney donors exploit the poor?

After we set the subject, a frequent participant, Richard J. sent an email highlighting recent advances in genetic technology and “Xenografts” (a new word for me). He points out that, as this technology advances and becomes more commonplace, the ethical questions around live organ donation may become moot. He wrote quite a long email, but he should be in attendance on Monday to express his views. In the meantime, here are three links he provided on the subject:

So we’ll have a chance to discuss medicine, ethics, and developing technologies, all in one Beyond Labels session.

See you Monday.


  • Is anyone concerned about the exploitation of animals to grow hearts and kindeys for human transplantation? That might be ethical, but that’s not obvious to me.

  • Following up on a comment made during last week’s discussion:

    You might wish to post this reference for last week’s discussion on the ethics of transplants for anyone wishing to read further: The Puzzle People: Memoirs of a Transplant Surgeon by Tom Starzl. It can be requested through the Blue Hill Library.

    Starzl was the most significant pioneer of transplant surgery and extraordinarily gifted and committed. I worked with him as a resident and staff anesthesiologist (and played tennis with him) at the University of Colorado for seven years before he left for Pittsburg. I was the anesthesiologist when he did the first liver xenotransplant fifty years ago.

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