Another Ethical Dilemma: Organ Donation and Paternity Discovery
The story is simple, not uncommon, though unfortunately the ethical dilemma which it produces has not as yet been fully resolved by ethicists, physicians, genetic counselors or transplant organizations. That is why I am presenting the dilemma here for the public to answer.
The story could be told in different ways but here is one way. A father wants to donate part of his liver to his sick daughter who needs a liver transplant promptly. The mother encourages the donation. In preparation for the donation, a blood test for genetic matching is necessary. To the consternation of the physicians, the results of the matching show that the “father” is not the biologic father of the daughter.
The dilemma of this unexpected paternity discovery is what should be done with the information the physicians have obtained? Should the father be informed? Should the daughter be informed? Should the mother, who presumably already knows the paternal relationship, give permission to inform the father and daughter? Or should the physicians keep the information to themselves and proceed with the transplant if the match is close enough for an acceptable outcome? Anyone have an answer to this dilemma? As I noted, currently even the experts can’t come to a consensus. ..Maurice.