Promoting organ donation registration with the priority incentive: Israeli transplantation surgeons' and other medical practitioners' views and ethical concerns

Nurit Guttman, Gil Siegal, Naama Appel-Doron, Gitit Bar-On

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Because the number of organs available for transplantation does not meet the needs of potential recipients, some have proposed that a potentially effective way to increase registration is to offer a self-benefit incentive that grants a 'preferred status' or some degree of prioritization to those who register as potential donors, in case they might need organs. This proposal has elicited an ethical debate on the appropriateness of such a benefit in the context of a life-saving medical procedure. In this paper we review arguments and ethical concerns raised by scholars, and studies of views of members of the public regarding the prioritization incentive system. We also report on our study of the views of those involved in organ transplant and of other medical professionals in Israel, as over half a decade ago Israel implemented a prioritization incentive system. Bioethicists propose that key stakeholders' views can provide additional arguments and perspectives on controversial issues. Proponents justify the prioritization incentive drawing mainly on arguments related to its potential effectiveness, reciprocity and fairness. Opponents point to the fact that registering is not binding and not an actual donation, and raise concerns regarding equity, autonomy and gaming the system. Ethical concerns raised by the practitioners in the study were examined in light of scholars' arguments and actual registration and donation data. Practitioners involved in transplantation raised ethical concerns corresponding to those raised by scholars as well as additional concerns. They also challenged proponents' assumptions regarding the utility of the incentive system from their own experience and argued that proponents obscure the meaning of reciprocity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-541
Number of pages15
JournalBioethics
Volume34
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020

Keywords

  • organ donation
  • organ transplantation
  • priority incentive
  • public opinion
  • reciprocity
  • social norms

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