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Transplant Case Study - Mickey Mantle

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I need help on a transplant case regarding Mickey Mantle.

Mickey Mantle (former baseball player) received a liver transplant in 1995 due to his liver failing from cirrhosis and hepatitis. He received the transplant after two days when there is a waiting list of 40,000 people on a list that generally takes 130 days. He received the liver with only having a 60% chance of living vs. average people having about a 75% chance. People speculated that he was favored becase he was famous.

What are the ethical and/or bio-ethical issues that may apply to this case?
What are the values and rules influencing ethical conflict?
What are the possible alternatives for the case?
If an ethics committee reviewed the case, what value would it have provided and considerations might it have considered in making the decision to proceed with the transplant?

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In a democratic society we want to believe things are equitable and there is justice. There is a spiritual component that is difficult to quantify like math or accounting. People that are at the top of the list and in a high probably of transplant success but find the procedure fails, might view the episode as bad luck.

While Mickey Mantle was not an important scientist, leader or brilliant businessman, what if he had been? Will a culture take the chance of the individual passing away while waiting? If not, what is considered important? Which types of people are considered worthy and which are not? Does a wealthy person have a better chance of getting the surgery? Readers now may hardly remember the man or news, unless a die-hard baseball fan or family member remembers his fame.

The easy alternatives are to state up front that all persons go to the end of the line, without exception. Changing the criteria, enabling some people to take cuts in the line, is another alternative and going all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary, to make sure there is a fair and good system would be another option.

The fact is that science mutates and even the best doctors ...

Solution Summary

Organ transplant priorities are discussed.

See Also This Related BrainMass Solution

Case Study: Ethical Transplant?

Mickey Mantle, Baseball Hall of Fame center fielder for the New York Yankees, received a liver transplant in 1995 after a six-hour operation. It took only two days for the Baylor Medical Center's transplant team to find an organ donor for the 63-year old former baseball hero when his own liver was failing due to cirrhosis and hepatitis. Mantle was a recovering alcoholic who also had a small cancerous growth that was not believed to be spreading or life-threatening.

There is usually a waiting period of about 130 days for a liver transplant in the United States. A spokesperson for the United Network for Organ Sharing located in Richmond, Virginia, stated that there had been no favoritism in this case. She based her statement on the results of an audit conducted after the transplant took place. However, veteran transplant professionals were surprised at how quickly the transplant liver became available. Doctors estimated that due to Mantle's medical problems, he had only a 60 percent chance for a three-year survival. Ordinarily liver transplant patients have about a 78 percent three-year survival rate. There are only about 4,000 livers available each year with 40,000 people waiting for a transplant of this organ. According to the director of the Southwest Organ Bank, Mantle was moved ahead of others on the list due to a deteriorating medical condition. The surgery was uneventful and Mantle's liver and kidneys began functioning almost immediately. His recovery from surgery was fast.

There were mixed feelings about speeding up the process for an organ transplant for a famous person. However, Kenneth Micetich, an ethicist at Loyola University in Chicago, stated, "People should not be punished just because they are celebrities." The ethics of giving a scarce liver to a recovering alcoholic was debated in many circles. University of Chicago ethicist Mark Siegler said, "First, he had three potential causes for his liver failure. But he also represents one of the true American heroes. Many people remember how he overcame medical and physical obstacles to achieve what he did. The system should make allowances for real heroes."

Mickey Mantle died a few years later from cancer.

1.What ethical and/or bioethical issues might apply to the circumstances of this case study?
2.What are the values and rules influencing the ethical conflict?
3.What are the possible alternatives for the patient in the case?
4-If an ethics committee were to have reviewed this case, what value would it have provided and what considerations might it have considered in making the decision to proceed with the organ transplantation?

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