News Roundup #4: Disability and transplant outcomes, the military and bone marrow drives, tracheal transplant triumph
Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at UPenn weighs in on the controversial case of a girl with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome and transplant outcomes in relation to disability in an MSNBC article. While the issue is indeed a very emotional one, Caplan’s response is more measured. He goes beyond the specific case and places it a larger context of the decision transplant teams need to make:
Transplant teams also think about the chance for long-term survival, especially when a scarce cadaver kidney is involved. Some severe mental disabilities are linked to genetic problems that create other daunting physical challenges — bad hearts, severe diabetes, malformed organs, etc., which can drastically shorten lifespan.
Because of that, some transplant programs don’t consider operating on those who are facing significantly shortened lives on the grounds that the need for transplants among kids is huge and the scarce supply of cadaver kidneys should be used to save the most lives and the most years of life.
The article closes with a final thought about disability and ethics:
There are reasons why anyone with an intellectual or physical disability might not be considered a good candidate for a transplant. But those reasons, to be ethical, have to be linked to the chance of making the transplant succeed. Otherwise they are not reasons, they are only biases.
Military.com reports naval hospital corpsman’s drive in Guam. This marks just one more case of how the U.S. Department of the Navy has actively participated in and supported the registration of potential bone marrow donors.
Reports are in on the first U.S. patient to receive a successful tracheal transplant. Bone marrow stem cells are used to generate a new trachea.
Doctors regenerated tissue from Lyles’ bone marrow stem cells to create a trachea biologically identical to Lyles’ original organ. Lyle underwent the transplant in November and arrived back home Wednesday.