The Case for and Against the Selling of Organs

Monday April 16th from 12:00 Noon to 3:30 PM in Lecture Hall 1, Level 2

Sponsored by Stony Brook University's Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics and Organ Donor Council
Conference Co-organizers: Andrew Flescher, David Harris and David Bekofsky

Lunch served for those who arrive at noon. There is no fee to attend the conference.

The Great Organ Shortage:
David Bekofsky, MS Administrative Director, Transplantation Services Team at Stony Brook University Medical Center
Noon-1:00 PM

Today, for the first time in modern history, we are seeing a precipitous decline in the amount of organs that are available to be donated. This past year at Stony Brook Organ Donation was down 11 percent from the previous year, itself a year that saw fewer organ donations than the year before. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that we are nearing a crisis. What are some of the factors that account for the shortfall? This question is complicated by the acknowledgment that some of these factors, such as fewer cases of brain deaths due to safer automobiles, have a societal upside. What do the recent statistics tell us? What are the legal limits in this country for addressing the shortage of organs? To what extent is this phenomenon observable in other countries? Is the shortage of organs particularly a problem for the United States?

Are Financial Incentives a Legitimate Means of Addressing our Society’s Shortage of Organs?:
1:00 PM-2:45 PM

In various countries around the world the sale of organs is permitted. Donors receive money for their gifts, and there is evidence to suggest that this practice has an impact on reducing the shortage of available organs. Yet, one can imagine costs associated with such a practice. First, poorer individuals are arguably at risk of being exploited by a society that rewards them for giving away their organs. Second, there is the ethical question about whether the transfer of certain special goods, such as bodily parts, should under any circumstances be governed by what is determined in the free market of exchange. Finally, there are cultural and religious norms to take into account when considering the permissibility of the sale of organs. Does the benefit of decreasing the shortage of organs that is the result of the practice of permitting their sale outweigh the costs just specified? If not, are there more mild sorts of incentives, shy of the outright sale of organs, which might be more appropriate to implement?

  • “How Might Society Incentivize Joining the Organ Donor Registry?”
    Dr. Scott Smolka, Department of Computer Science, Stony Brook University
  • “The Case for Selling Organs”
    Amy Friedman, Professor of Surgery and Director of Transplant Services, Upstate University Hospital
  • Response to Dr. Amy Friedman
    Andrew Flescher, Associate Professor of Ethics and Medical Humanities, Department of Preventive Medicine, Stony Brook University

Town Hall:
2:45 PM-3:30 PM

After summarizing some of the key points that have been raised in the conference, we will have a community discussion.
David Bekofsky, MS Administrative Director, Transplantation Services Team at Stony Brook University Medical Center
Panelists:
Helen Iriving, CEO, New York Organ Donor Network
Dr. Scott Smolka, Department of Computer Science, Stony Brook University
Dr. Amy Friedman, Professor of Surgery and Director of Transplant Services, Upstate University Hospital
Dr. Andrew Flescher, Associate Professor of Ethics and Medical Humanities, Department of Preventive Medicine, Stony Brook University

SPONSORED by Stony Brook’s Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics, SBUMC Organ Donor Council, and the New York Organ Donor Network
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