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Organ and Tissue Donation

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organ donationModern surgical techniques have made it possible for someone to have diseased or damaged organs or tissues replaced with healthy ones from a living or dead donor.  When the donor is living, there are naturally many limits on what can be transplanted, and organs like kidneys are the most common, followed by the transplantation of sections of liver and lungs.  Major organs taken from a dead donor include the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver, and tissues include bone, corneas, skin, and heart valves.  One of the central ethical questions is the determination of death.  People who are on life support may be eligible for organ donation and important questions arise about correctly determining when they are actually dead before organ procurement can proceed.  Other important ethical questions include who is eligible to receive an organ; how organ waiting lists are structured; should payment be permitted for organs and tissues; should reproductive organs and tissues be permitted for transplant; should face transplants be permitted; how religious and cultural sensitivities should be handled; confidentiality and privacy of donor and recipient; ensuring genuine informed consent; and, how should family conflicts about donation be handled?