Mark Cherry delivers a challenging lecture on organ transplantation
The Department of Health Care Ethics invited Dr. Mark Cherry to give this year’s Distinguished Lecture on Oct. 10. Dr. Cherry, the Dr. Patricia A. Hayes Professor in Applied Ethics at St. Edwards University, spoke on the sale of human organs on the open market. With over 100,000 people now waiting for an organ transplant—many of whom are waiting for a kidney—it is not surprising that the health system regularly examines new ways of increasing the availability of organs. One controversial proposal—currently contrary to US laws and recommendations by the Institute of Medicine—is to allow regulated sales or the use of financial incentives to motivate organ donation. Cherry has a book on the same topic, Kidney for Sale by Owner: Human Organs, Transplantation, and the Market, which was published in 2005 by Georgetown University Press.
“We knew we wanted to invite Dr. Cherry to talk about his views on this issue,” said James DuBois. “We expected a great discussion since we knew many people in the audience—Department of Health Care Ethics faculty included—would disagree with him. We weren’t disappointed.”
Turnout was excellent for the noontime talk, with members of the audience, including a transplant surgeon and faculty from the School of Law, staying well after the scheduled end of the event to continue the dialogue.
“This year’s addition to our Distinguished Lecturer series was a huge success,” continued Dubois, who himself has done extensive work in the ethics of organ donation. “The venue at the School of Law, who hosted for us, was standing room only, and I was very impressed with the thoughtfulness of the questions that were asked after Dr. Cherry’s talk. It was obvious that some people were challenged and had to think about the issue a different way to work through what they were hearing. As ethicists we can’t ask for anything more.”
Department PhD students agreed. “I thought it was a great topic,” said third-year student Andrew Plunk. “I know everyone’s intellectual curiosity has been piqued when we continue talking amongst ourselves afterward. A lot of people had knee-jerk reactions to what Dr. Cherry was describing, but then afterward the process of justifying why we felt that way was important.”