Altruism in Extremis — The Evolving Ethics of Organ Donation

For W.B.’s life partner, in retrospect, the first sign was dishcloths full of water: Why had W.B. stopped wringing them out as he had always done? His hands, it turned out, had grown weak, and soon his foot started making slapping sounds when he walked; when he could no longer mow the lawn without resting, he sought medical care, only to be told he was deconditioned because he was overweight and had a sedentary job. When he started falling down, W.B., then 55, was finally referred to a neurologist, who diagnosed him with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). W.B., a father of three who’d spent his life working hard and caring for others, researched his disease. With a clear understanding of his prognosis, he felt a profound desire to still help others. He approached the University of Wisconsin’s transplant center with an unusual request: to donate all his organs before he died. If he had to die in a process that would strip him of his dignity and sense of purpose, why not be allowed this final act that could save other lives?


See full article at NEJM