Do You Need That Kidney?

Rethinking the ethics of organ transplants.

Episode 208 | March 1, 2016

Scientists experimented with skin and organ transplants for a long time before they finally met with success in the mid-20th century. Now surgeons are expert at performing transplants. The only problem? There aren’t enough organs to go around, which creates some serious ethical dilemmas.

First, reporter Dalia Mortada takes us to Tel Aviv, Israel, where a dialysis patient waiting for a new kidney is running out of patience. Conflicting religious interpretations have prevented many Israelis from signing up to become organ donors. This has created a serious supply-and-demand problem, leading many desperate patients to the black market. Mortada tells us how this trend is slowly changing and talks to the doctors, rabbis, and bioethicists behind the shift.

Then we talk to American bioethicists Art Caplan and Robert Baker about the pitfalls of the U.S. donation system. “You sign up when you go to Motor Vehicles,” Caplan says, “which may not be the ultimately wonderful place to make [these] decisions, other than the fact that you may wait there long enough to die there, in which case they can probably get your organs.”


Hosts: Michal Meyer and Bob Kenworthy
Guest: Art Caplan and Robert Baker
Reporter: Dalia Mortada
Producer: Mariel Carr
Associate Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez
Music courtesy of the Audio Network
Special thanks to Sarah Reisert and Adiel Levin for lending their voices to this show