Selection of recipients for donor organs in transplant medicine

J Med Philos. 1998 Feb;23(1):50-74. doi: 10.1076/jmep.


This paper deals with a problem which has received a great deal of attention in the ethical literature, but about which very little is known empirically: the selection of recipients for organs in transplant medicine. Based on a larger study, it is shown how this problem is practically resolved in one European country, Germany. It is demonstrated that most of the criteria used to determine recipients are non-medical in nature, even though they generally tend to be rationalized in medical terms. Moreover, the choice of criteria depends as much on prognostic considerations as on personal indiosyncrasies and values held by individual physicians who are in charge at the various programs. Several examples of the extremely diverse policies in which this results are presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ethical Theory
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Germany
  • Health Care Rationing*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Patient Selection*
  • Prognosis
  • Resource Allocation*
  • Social Values
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement
  • Uncertainty
  • Waiting Lists