Organ transplants have become so commonplace that they rarely make the news anymore. But British doctors are now dealing with a new ethical dilemma: What if organ donations come with conditions attached?
CBS News Correspondent Mark Phillips reports that two recently publicized cases have brought the issue to the floor.
In one, relatives of a dead white man refused to allow his organs to go to a nonwhite. An Asian donor insisted upon donating his organs only to another Asian. Doctors were caught between an abhorrence of racism and the imperative to heal.
They chose to heal.
Â"They may have felt rather than waste a donated organ -- even though it is distasteful to accept this condition -- it was better to let one person live,Â" said Dr. Vivian Nathanson of the British Medical Ethics Committee.
Some 1,500 people die each year in Britain while waiting for organs that never arrive. The problem is compounded by a greater demand for organs and a reduction in supply, which is caused by fewer road accidents and longer lives.
The transplant debate produced another twist Thursday. British doctors said all organs should be presumed available for transplant unless the dead potential donors previously stated their organs not be used.
Reported by Mark Phillips
©1999, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved