Sunday, August 4, 2013

Should an Alcoholic Be Allowed to Get a Second Liver Transplant?

Considering the question of how to allocate a scarce resource: human organs

Theodore Dalrymple

 ... A newspaper in England asked me to write an article, for what for me was a considerable sum of money, to opine that a certain very famous soccer player, who had turned severely to drink after his retirement, should not be given a second liver transplant, the first having failed because of his continued drinking. The player in question was not admirable, but he did say one memorable thing. Impoverished by his habits, an interviewer asked him where all his money had gone. “Wine, women and song,” he replied. “The rest I wasted.”

I told the newspaper that, as a practising doctor, I could not possibly write an article saying that a named person should be left to die without potentially life-saving treatment.

“Do you know a doctor who would write it?” the editor asked.

“I hope not,” I replied.

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