Case Study Organ Donation Charlie, a young 10 year old boy, was born with a rare liver disease that left him unable to eat or digest food. His rare liver disease also affected his intestines, pancreas and spleen. His condition was considered terminal unless he had a transplant that would cost approximately 1 million dollars. The problem the family encountered was that his insurance (Medicaid) considered this operation to be experimental and therefore not reimbursable. Charlie’s parents summed up the families attitude regarding this by saying “Money is nothing compared to a human life”. The family fought with the government for over 2 years with no success. It wasn’t until the media got involved that the case caught the eye of a young pioneer transplant surgeon, who promised to waive his fee, and agreed to review this case. Upon review, the surgeon felt there was a small window of time for helping Charlie and that it was closing rapidly. The surgeon approached a local hospital and asked them to waive the normal $500,000 down payment for this type of surgery. The hospital declined saying that they could not afford to become a free care center and that this could risk the future of its own transplant program. In a sudden turn of events, Medicaid finally decided to pay for the operation. At first the team could not find a hospital to perform the operation for the limited Medicaid fee but finally found a local teaching hospital that agreed to do it. It took 6 weeks to find a donor. The 16 hour surgery was performed and Charlie received a new liver, small and large intestine, pancreas and spleen. It turned out to be the first five organ transplant performed. Although Charlie faced a number of set backs after the surgery, he returned home to eat solid food for the first time. He turned out to be the first child to survive a multiple organ transplant beyond 6 months.
Questions: 1. What are the ethical issues in this case? 2. Is it right to give five organs to one person when five others could possibly benefit? 3. Is it right for the media to intervene in situations like this? Why or why not? 4. What is your reaction to the statement from the first hospital who did not want to perform the surgery as they did not want to become a free care center and jeopardize their own transplant program?