Saturday, March 20, 2010

The future of the organ business?

Repo Men came out in theaters yesterday. It looks pretty terrible (and the reviews seems to agree with that sentiment). It's too bad, because I think it brings up a great slate of moral/ethical debates that I want to discuss.

And since I'm not going to see this movie, and I don't know anyone who is/was, I'll just throw them out there here on my blog.

To those of you unfamiliar with the plot, Repo Men is about the future, where people who cannot pay for their artificial organs get them repossessed. Jude Law and Forest Whitaker are two of these repo men who are responsible for hunting down the delinquent payers.

This leads to the first interesting debate. Is it right to let someone DIE for not being able to make payments on these life saving devices? I know this isn't much different than our current health care situation (and I don't want this to turn into a health care debate; that's a topic for another day). However, there is a key difference between this movie and reality. In reality, someone would eventually die for not getting the medical care they need. In the movie, the owner of the artificial organ would IMMEDIATELY die. In other words, you don't make the payments, the penalty is instant death. Is that right? Tough call. On one hand, whomever sold the artificial organ is entitled to payment and should be allowed to take action to recoup those lost payments. On the other hand, it sounds like the practice of a mobster. Killing people who don't pay you. I don't think two wrongs make a right in this situtation.

Let's extend this argument a little further. Instead of artificial organs, let's say a company was able to use stem cells to grow replacement organs for customers (and let's not get into a stem cell debate either). Do things change if they're repossessing organic organs, rather than artificial?

Regardless of how the repossessed organs were "manufactured" (grown in a human body, grown in a lab, or produced in a factory), if you needed a new vital organ, would you be comfortable with a used organ? Granted, with the current process of organ transplantation, people are currently getting "used" organs. But how many additional owners would scare you off from obtaining it? Would you accept a heart or a lung if it'd been already been in two, three, or even more human bodies? Where do you draw the line? Or, do you look at the counter-point: "Hey, it's already kept two people alive and hasn't failed yet. It's a quality product, so I've got nothing to worry about!!"

I'm maybe only scratching the surface of these ethical dilemmas. But I'd love to hear what you think. Please, keep the discussion on the topic of organ transplantation and repossession.


Cathy Davis said...

Stem cells are the life givers of human body and their use in the right way will lead to many new discoveries in medical sciences. The research should go on for the betterment of the world community as prevention and cure of many diseases lie in stem cell treatments.

PFritz21 said...

I agree, we as a society should continue stem cell research.

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