Ethical Analysis and Policy Recommendations Regarding Domino Liver Transplantation

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Due to the widening gap between supply and demand, patients who need a liver transplant due to metabolic disease may be asked to serve as domino liver donors—to have their native liver transplanted into another candidate. We here analyze the ethical problems surrounding informed consent for the implant and explant procedures in transplant candidates who will serve as domino donors, using the case of a child with maple syrup urine disease. We discuss the need for 2 distinct consent processes separated in time to ensure that potential domino donors (or their surrogates) give a truly voluntary consent. We propose a Domino Donor Advocate—based on the concept of the independent living donor advocate to help the patient and/or his or her surrogates consider the risks, benefits and alternatives. Finally, we evaluate the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network policy regarding “therapeutic organ donation” and propose several modifications to ensure that the decision by the potential domino donor (and/or his or her surrogate) is voluntary and informed.

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