The Ethical Complexities of Online Organ Solicitation via Donor–Patient Websites: Avoiding the “Beauty Contest”

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Abstract

The proliferation of the Internet has spurred the creation of websites dedicated to facilitating living directed organ donations. We argue that such sites potentially devolve into “beauty contests” where patients in need are evaluated on the basis of their personal appearance and biography—variables which should have no relevance to organ allocation. Altruism should be the guiding motivation for all donations, and when it does, there is no place for a beauty contest. The power of the Internet is optimally used when it facilitates Good Samaritan donations—donations toanystranger, rather than handpicked ones. Social networking sites which aim to match potential donors and patients should mask personal identifying information, allowing the ethical principles of altruism and justice to guide organ allocation.

The authors argue that websites facilitating living directed organ donation have potential to devolve into “beauty contests,” where patients in need are evaluated on the basis of their personal appearance and biography—variables that should have no relevance to organ allocation.

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