Raising the Dead: Organ Transplants, Ethics, and Society

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Perhaps no medical breakthrough in the twentieth century is more spectacular, more hope-giving, or more fraught with ethical questions than organ transplantation. Each year some 25,000 Americans are pulled back from the brink of death by receiving vital new organs. Another 5,000 die while waiting for them. And what distinguishes these two groups has become the source of one of our thorniest ethical questions.
In Raising the Dead, Ronald Munson offers a vivid, often wrenchingly dramatic account of how transplants are performed, how we decide who receives them, and how we engage the entire range of tough issues that arise because of them. Each chapter begins with a detailed account of a specific case—Mickey Mantle's controversial liver transplant, for example—followed by careful analysis of its surrounding ethical questions (the charges that Mantle received special treatment because he was a celebrity, the larger problems involving how organs are allocated, and whether alcoholics should have an equal claim on donor livers). In approaching transplant ethics through specific cases, Munson reminds us of the complex personal and emotional dimension that underlies such issues. The book also ranges beyond our present capabilities to explore the future possibilities in xenotransplantation (transplanting animal organs into humans) and stem cell technology that would allow doctors to grow new organs from the patient's own cells.
Based on extensive scientific research, but written with a novelist's eye for the human condition, Raising the Dead shows readers the reality of organ transplantation now, the possibility of what it may become, and how we might respond to the ethical challenges it forces us to confront.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Munson provides a useful review of where we've been and what lies ahead.... He does a service in raising the issues and pointing to the needs of an aging society in which health care is anything but equitable."—Kirkus Reviews
Library Journal
Novelist and professor Munson (philosophy of science and medicine, Univ. of Missouri, St. Louis) here provides a wonderful introduction to a variety of ethical issues surrounding organ transplantation. With a minimum of technical terminology, he discusses the definition of death, methods for obtaining organs, recipient selection, xenotransplantation, and stem cell research. Using case studies, both real and fictitious, he also offers a current look at these difficult issues. The chapters on xenotransplants and stem cell research are particularly interesting for their jargon-free description of those processes and their potential. Although Munson is not hesitant to include opinions and recommendations, it is always clear when the opinions expressed are his own. Arthur Caplan's The Ethics of Organ Transplants (LJ 3/15/99) discusses many of the same issues, but it is slightly dated and somewhat more philosophical. Munson's extremely readable and affordable contribution is highly recommended for public library and undergraduate collections. Tina Neville, Univ. of South Florida Lib., St. Petersburg Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Munson (philosophy of science and medicine, U. of Missouri at St. Louis) explores the ethical dilemmas of current and possible future practices in organ transplantation. Beginning each chapter with a case study (real in the case of current practices and fictional in the case of the rest), he discusses the major issue in each case, presenting opposing viewpoints as well as his own opinion. Issues include whether Mickey Mantle received special treatment for the transplantation of his liver, transplantation from other species, and the possibilities of growing one's own transplants. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
Kirkus Reviews
One man's take on the art, science, and ethics of organ transplantation. Given the author's other life as a thriller writer (Night Vision, 1995, etc.), it's not too surprising that the take is often as melodramatic as the title.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195132991
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Ronald Munson is Professor of Philosophy of Science and Medicine, University of Missouri-St. Louis. He is the author of Intervention and Reflection, the most widely used medical ethics textbook in the US, and of three novels.

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Table of Contents

1 A modern Lazarus : Robby Benson's heart 1
2 Mickey Mantle's liver, part 1 : the case 26
3 Mickey Mantle's liver, part 2 : the issues 46
4 The others may live : the dead-donor rule and anencephalic infants 67
5 Kidney for sale : is it ever right to sell your kidney? 98
6 Donors of last resort : protecting vulnerable people 125
7 Kurosawa in Clifornia : the baby Fae case and unproven treatments 145
8 But are they really dead? : is no heartbeat enough for death? 172
9 Xenotransplantation, part 1 : chasing the dream 192
10 Xenotransplantation, part 2 : fearing the worst, hoping for the best 220
11 Grow your own organs : stem-cell engineering and regenerative medicine 238
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