An ethical dilemma concerning lung transplants for anti-vaxxers

About one in 10 lung transplants in the United States now go to COVID-19 patients, according to data from the United Network for Organ Sharing, or UNOS.

The trend is raising questions about the ethics of allocating a scarce resource to people who have chosen not to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Read the article from NPR here:
Once rare, lung transplants for COVID-19 patients are rising quickly

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Good point

I think [COVID-19 patients] should be subject to the same expectation, that they should either be vaccinated or be able to demonstrate immunity to COVID-19 going forward, so that their next set of lungs is not subject to the same risk," Kates says.

Thanks. Good article.

You’re welcome. I also think that’s the right call.

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yes, it’s more to prevent loss of resources. It’s not judgmental. It’s sort of like making sure someone who is an alcoholic no longer drinks, or someone who used to smoke no longer will damage their new lungs by smoking.

I struggle, because as @jpm posted from ZDogg MD on reviewing Jonathan Haidt, some of us really have a block about starting a shot. Paul Offit, as you posted, also observed that some of us feel that a sin of omission would be preferable to the "commission’ of trying a new thing, like a shot. It reminds me of C S Lewis’ “Last Battle,” in which many of the animals were so confused and afraid that, rather than fight for Aslan in the Bonfire Battle, many simply melted away. It’s awful, because Covid doesn’t pick and choose–it attacks those who are afraid, too.

The question here is not whether someone who lost their lungs to Covid had a shot prior or not–it’s whether they will commit to having a shot to protect the new lungs that they could lose (especially as they’re immunocompromised), and someone else who would comply with the shot could potentially use.

It’s a shame that such things happen. However, the real enemy is Covid, not those who struggle.


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This is a good opportunity to encourage everyone to become organ donors after they check out. Discuss this with your families.

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Nobody has a right to any bodily organs from another human being.

So any organ transplant is already an ethical dilemma as far as I am concerned.

And the degree of hypocrisy in the case of anti-vaxxers is a bit over the top.

People donate their organs. It can help a grieving family to know that their loved ones live on in a way, as in this case that moved me to tears: Organ Donor Remembered Through Honor Walk

And the donor doesn’t always have to die first; e.g. in the case of donated kidneys or pieces of liver. Giving blood is very common also, but you have to weigh at least 110 pounds to do so.

And I love this commercial

There was a story a few months back where transplant centers were requiring Covid vaccinations for their other organ transplant recipients (kidney and heart as I recall) with the usual cries about how that discriminates against antivax folk. Same argument essentially, without the factor of the situation in lung transplants being somewhat self-inflicted. And, not a lot different than when in liver transplants, centers require abstinence from alcohol to be demonstrated. It is simply a way of making the best use of limited resources.


Yes… and others have organs stolen or feel they have no choice but to sell their organs.

If it is donated to the anti-vaxer, obviously there is nothing we can say about that.

ummm… do whatever it takes to save a child? no price too great? desperate loved ones… quite an ethical mess it seems to me… I said “ethical dilemma” not “that is is wrong, evil” or anything like that.

I choose to be a “vegetarian” on this. No judgement, but NO THANK YOU.

I am not sure that makes anything better… worse even…

I have no problem with anything we regrow and replace. Maybe one day we will learn how to regrow organs and the ethical dilemma I see in this will vanish.

What does it say on my driver’s license?
Right now it says no. It has said yes at times. I struggle with that one.

Of course I’m talking about situations where people choose to donate organs!!

Organs cannot legally be stolen or sold, of course. Where do you live, anyway?

Normally a person doesn’t know the recipient of a donated organ, unless maybe it’s one kidney or a piece of a liver from a living donor which could be a relative. If you’re dead you can’t know the recipient because… you’re dead.

Giving life, receiving life. Sounds awful. Watch the first video I posted.

Here’s a short video about a living donor of a kidney to a family member.

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