Kidney vending: opinions of the medical school students on this controversial issue

Transplant Proc. 2004 Apr;36(3):446-7. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2004.02.065.


Background: In this era of globalization, in which different cultural and economic barriers are progressively abated, in the context of the development of rapid information networks such as the Internet, physicians are increasingly challenged by clinical and ethical questions. Kidney vending, banned in some countries, legal or tolerated in others, may be the prototype of the ethical aspects of health-care globalization.

Methods: To test the interest and the opinions of medical school students, a simulated case was proposed to students attending a seminar within the nephrology course fourth year of the Medical School of Torino, san Luigi): an Italian patient comes to the nephrologist's office asking for advice on the possibility to legally buy a kidney in a foreign country. The 43 students attending the lesson answered a semistructured questionnaire (15 boys, 28 girls, of median age 23 years). Attendance was within the usual standards (50 students inscribed per year). From the clinical point of view, 11.6% were favorable to kidney vending, 51.2% were contrary, 37.2% were uncertain. From the ethical point of view, no student was pro, 81.4% were contrary, and 18.6% were uncertain. The open comments underline the importance of patient self-determination and of informed consent. Similar opinions were recorded in a nonstructured question: "What should physician's attitude be, in the face of a choice he/she doesn't share?"

Conclusion: Students' uncertainties and doubts underline the need to discuss ethical scenarios in the clinical teachings of the medical school.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Humans
  • Kidney*
  • Nephrology / education
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / economics*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / ethics*