The Heart Transplant Dilemma

The Heart Transplant Dilemma

Heart Transplant Dilemma

People encounter numerous ethical dilemmas, both personally and professionally, throughout their lifetime. However, very few take the time to understand how their underlying values and biases may drive their ethical decision-making. Uncovering these values and biases is useful for developing ethical competence and cultural humility, two important aspects of this course.

In this Discussion, you will respond to an ethical dilemma involving potential recipients for a heart transplant. It is important that you respond based on your “gut” reaction rather than adhering to any particular ethical code or standards. The purpose of this Discussion is to gain a greater awareness of how your values and biases guide your decisions.

To Prepare

  • Review your Course Announcements for possible information related to this week’s Discussion and Assignment.
  • Read the “Heart Transplant Ethical Dilemma.”
  • Identify five patients you believe should receive the heart transplant and make note of your reasoning. Keep in mind that that there is no right answer.
  • After you have identified the five patients you believe should receive the heart transplant, review the Learning Resources on values, biases, and ethical decision-making. Reflect on how your values and biases may have influenced your response to the heart transplant dilemma.
Heart Transplant Ethical Dilemma You are part of the organ transplant team at a local hospital.

You must urgently review a list of potential recipients for a heart transplant. There are nine recipients but only five available hearts, so the team must decide who will receive the transplant and who will not. Those who do not receive the transplant will die in a matter of months. Review the following recipients and identify five that you think should receive the heart transplant. Be sure to respond based on your “gut” reaction rather than using any particular ethical code or standards for guidance.

1. Joe Hillendale. Age 69. Unmarried. No children. Vietnam veteran. Awarded the Purple

Heart. Honorably discharged from the military in 1979. Recovering alcoholic. Nineteen

years sober. Heavy tobacco smoker. Owns a construction company that employs 150


2. Mary Krebs. Age 76. Widowed with one adult child who relocated to Beijing for work.

College educated. Worked as a public school teacher for 50 years. Retired four years

ago. Volunteers time to provide tutoring to at-risk youth.

3. Carlos Castro. Age 27. Married with three children under the age of 7. Wife and

children live in Mexico. Paints houses for a living and sends most of his earnings to his

family in Mexico.

4. Cooper Malinowski.

Age 15. Suffers from lupus and cardiomyopathy from Lyme

disease. Frequently misses school due to health conditions. No siblings. Both parents

work as physical therapists.

5. Renee Sullivan. Age 28. Unmarried with four children under the age of 5 from three

different men. The men are not involved in the children’s lives and do not pay child

support. Unemployed and receiving government assistance. Heart was damaged due to

a childhood medical condition that was untreated and long-term substance abuse.

Sober for 44 days.

6. Parth Bhatt. Age 24. Unmarried with no children. Originally from India. Currently

pursuing a PhD in electrical engineering. Plans to return to India after graduation.

7. LaShonda Williams. Age 44. Divorced with two children. Ex-husband refuses to pay

child support or see his children on a regular basis. Some college education. Works as

an administrative assistant in a medical office. Also takes care of elderly mother who

suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

8. Camila Hernández. Age 39. Married with three children, one of whom suffers from

autism. Speaks very little English. Does not work outside of the home. Husband is a

truck driver and is gone on trips for most of the week.

9. Jim Adams. Age 55. Divorced with two children. Receives disability for depression.

Currently suffers from cirrhosis and hepatitis, due to years of alcoholism and

intravenous drug use. Stopped using drugs five years ago but continues to consume

two to three alcoholic drinks every day despite his doctor’s objections.

Heart Transplant

Heart Transplant