In the United States, there are 100,000 individuals needing a healthy kidney. The shortage is especially disconcerting given that since organ transplantation became sound medical treatment, we have never had better technology—while so little occasion—to avail ourselves of it. In response to the crisis it has become increasingly popular to furnish compelling arguments for legalizing the sale of kidneys. This response, seemingly appealing from the perspective of utility, not only invites ethical concerns about safety, commodification, and social justice; Andrew M. Flescher also argues it fails to increase the number of informed, willing donors.
Can we address the organ shortage problem the way we have historically dealt with the blood supply shortage---altruistically---despite that organs are considerably harder to replenish than blood? I argue “yes,” not by recommending a purist’s approach to disallowing any form of self-regard in selfless motivation, but by exploring ways in which sacrificial giving is the upshot of the formation of social bonds and exchanges.
Andrew M. Flescher, Ph.D., is a Professor of Family, Population, and Preventive Medicine and Professor of English at State University of New York, Stony Brook, where he is also core faculty in the Program in Public Health. Dr. Flescher serves on stony Brook’s Organ Donor Council and Hospital Ethics Committee and is a Living Donor Advocate at Stony Brook Hospital. Dr. Flescher specializes in health care policy, organ donation policy, and medical and bioethics, as well as in areas related to the interface between ethics and literature. Dr. Flescher received his B.A. in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and History from Duke University (1991) and his M.A. (1995) and Ph.D. (2000) in Religious Studies from Brown University. In addition to writing several articles and book chapters, he is the author of four books: Heroes, Saints, and Ordinary Morality (2003), The Altruistic Species: (2007, winner of the Choice Award), Moral Evil (2013, winner of the Prose Award), and most recently The Organ Shortage Crisis in America (January, 2018). On July 1st, 2017, Dr. Flescher joined the ethics committee of UNOS (The United Network for Organ Sharing) and he has also recently been appointed to LiveOnNY’s ethics committee. Additionally, Dr. Flescher is on the Board of the Gingold Theatrical Group in New York City, dedicated to fighting for human, women’s and animal rights through presenting the work and wit of George Bernard Shaw. He plays piano occasionally in the Stony Brook Hospital Lobby for patients, their families, and staff.
Presider: Barbara Carlsen
Shared Charity: The Gingold Theatrical Group