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Organ Transplantation

The WSMA has established the following guidelines for organ transplantations to aid physicians in fulfilling their ethical responsibilities when they engage in transplantations.

  1. Care must be taken to protect the rights of both the donor and the recipient, and no physician may assume a responsibility in organ transplantation unless the rights of both donor and recipient are equally protected.
  2. The physician should provide his patient, who may be a prospective organ donor, with that care usually given other being treated for a similar injury or disease.
  3. When a vital, single organ is to be transplanted, the death of the donor shall have been determined by at least one physician other than the recipient's physician. Death shall be determined by the clinical judgment of the physician. In making this determination, the ethical physician will use currently accepted available scientific tests.
  4. Full discussion of the proposed procedure with the donor and recipient or their responsible relatives or representatives is mandatory. The physician should be objective in discussing the procedure, in disclosing known risks and possible hazards, and in advising of the alternative procedures available. The physician should not encourage expectations beyond those which the circumstances justify. The physician's interest in advancing scientific knowledge must always be secondary to his primary concern for the patient.
  5. Transplant procedures of body organs should be undertaken:
    1. only by physicians who possess special medical knowledge and technical competence developed through special training, study, and laboratory experience and practice; and b) in medical institutions with facilities adequate to protect the health and well-being of the parties to the procedure.
  6. Transplantation of body organs should be undertaken only after careful evaluation of the availability and effectiveness of other possible therapy.

(JC 2.12-87) (Reaffirmed A-23)

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Abbreviations for House of Delegates report origination:

EC – Executive Committee; BT – Board of Trustees; CPA – Council on Professional Affairs; JC – Judicial Council; CHS – Community and Health Services

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