Right now, there is an enormous shortage of organs available for transplants. In consequence, as long as a suitable match is found, organs are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, and there is no way you can be pushed to the top of the list unless you are near death. Something seems wrong about this system. I read that there was a great delay until Erma Bombeck, the great comic writer and definitely a national asset, was given a kidney transplant (and she died almost immediately thereafter). Shouldn't such a woman have been pushed to the top of the list?
--Puzzled and angry
Determining who should live and who should die on the basis of a person's fame or intellectual contribution to society is very tempting but not necessarily moral. Because I believe that human beings are created in God's image, I can't credit the idea that some people are made more in God's image than others. Even though I would prefer to see those who committed violent crimes pushed to the back of the list, I can't help thinking what horrible moral dilemmas would be unleashed if we awarded transplants on the basis of whose life was perceived by some committee to be more worthwhile.
One objection that I've encountered to this proposal is that it might discriminate against those who, for religious reasons, are opposed to donating organs. True enough, but it does strike me as fair that those who oppose giving organs should be last when it comes to getting them. On a positive note, however, pushing potential donors to the top of the list might lead to such an increase in the number of available organs that everybody who needs an organ would get one.