Organ and tissue donation and transplantation (OTDT) is often considered to be a biomedical and biotechnological issue. However, the discrepancy between supply and demand of transplantable organs and tissues is an issue that is fundamentally social, psychological and cultural in nature. OTDT is shaped by numerous factors such as personality, attitudes and experiences, religious and cultural identities, and the very notions of life and death.
Human responses to the desperate wait for transplantable organs and tissues continue to stimulate technological innovation but may also compromise ethical and moral conduct. Inherent to OTDT is a fundamental tension between the public good – increasing the supply of transplantable organs – and the rights of the individual to live and die with dignity. The questions relevant to OTDT ask what it means to be human in the face of the social transformation spurred by the technologies of organ failure support, organ replacement and organ enhancement. We advocate an interdisciplinary collaborative research approach that bridges biomedicine to the domains of bioethics, psychology, anthropology, law, philosophy, religion, media and public policy.
* Picture obtained at www.petercallesen.com