Penn Bioethics Seminar Series (PBS): Martha Gershun and John D. Lantos, MD
12:00pm - 1:00pm • via Zoom
Kidney to Share: The Ethics of Living Organ Donation
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On September 28, 2018 Martha Gershun donated a kidney at the Mayo Clinic to a woman she read about in the newspaper. Gershun, an accomplished nonprofit executive and graduate of the Harvard Business School, was astounded at the many obstacles she encountered in her attempt to offer this altruistic gift.
Gershun turned to her friend and colleague Dr. John Lantos, a physician and bioethicist, to better understand how the history of kidney transplantation and the ethical controversies that surround living donors led to these barriers. Together, they wrote Kidney to Share (Cornell University Press, May 2021) to help readers understand both the scientific discoveries that made transplantation relatively safe and effective and the barriers that make it difficult and expensive to donate a kidney. They show how these barriers may discourage donors and exacerbate racial and economic health disparities.
In this talk Gershun will discuss her decision to donate a kidney to a stranger and the long, complicated process that finally led to a successful surgery nine months later. Lantos will use her story to illustrate the ethical issues that arise in recovering and allocating organs from both living and deceased donors. They will suggest ways that the medical community could thoughtfully and safely reduce the burdens on living donors. Doing so could shorten the waiting list for transplants and save lives. Kidney to Share is available through Amazon and independent booksellers. It can also be purchased directly from the publisher at https://bit.ly/3fCtvGM.
Martha Gershun is the former Executive Director of Jackson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). She is author of Care & Custody, and her work has appeared in The Kansas City Star, The New York Times Magazine, Kveller, and The Radcliffe Quarterly. In 2018 she donated a kidney at the Mayo Clinic to a woman she read about in the newspaper. Follow her on Twitter @mgershun.
John D. Lantos, MD, is Director of the Bioethics Center at Children’s Mercy Hospital and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine. His books include Do We Still Need Doctors, Neonatal Bioethics, and Controversial Bodies. He is an Associate Editor of American Journal of Bioethics and Senior Editor of Current Problems in Pediatrics and Adolescent Health Care. Follow him on Twitter @johnlantos.
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