AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. February 2000, Volume 2, Number 2.

Ethics Poll

Canadian Age Limits for Organ Transplant Recipients

The Ethics Poll is a snapshot of the opinions of interested readers.

Recently, a 79-year-old Canadian man with a "broken heart" received a cardiac transplant from a 55-year-old donor. The recipient was 14 years older than what was normally considered to be the maximum age for a transplant candidate. He was also a well-connected public official and friend of an Edmonton heart specialist. Before his need for a new heart, the recipient was extremely active, swimming 50 laps a day. Although Canada has an age limit for organ recipients, the United States has no such requirement. Was it ethically permissible for this recipient to have gotten a new heart?

Poll Results

Was it ethically permissible for this recipient to have gotten a new heart?
144 votes recorded

Yes, because the Canadian policy is age discriminatory
5 votes - 3%

Yes, because the recipient was extremely healthy otherwise
37 votes - 25%

No, because younger recipients could have benefited more from using the donor's heart
5 votes - 3%

No, because his receiving a heart raises public concerns about the integrity of the organ procurement system
97 votes - 67%

Poll results reflect the opinions of visitors to the site who voluntarily answer the poll questions. Those visitors do not represent a random sample of Virtual Mentor readers. The viewpoints expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.