Comment on Discussion 1

The responses on this discussion were by-and-large very good. There are several issues here and many of you hit on one or more of them. The first question we might ask is to whom does the doctor have a primary responsibility? If it is to the child, does that responsibility include reporting that the father is a donor? It is possible that a non-family member who submitted to a donor test in the past could change his or her mind and ask to be removed from the donor list. In such a case the doctor wouldn’t have an obligation to reveal the name of the former match, but would simply have to inform the child/family that there was no match available. A second question is whether the father became a patient when he agreed to the test. It seems this could go either way. Although he knew the point of taking the test was to identify a donor, it still might be argued that some sort of confidentiality applies. A third possibility is a utilitarian argument. The problem with utilitarian arguments is that they tend to ignore rights claims or other sorts of moral claims. While I would agree telling may lead to better consequences, one might want to consider whether morality requires that we take grave risks with our own life to help another. In other words, how much can I require of an individual? Do each of us have an obligation to do things like donate kidneys? Why does it matter (if it does at all) that it was the man’s daughter that needed the kidney rather than a stranger?

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