I opened my newspaper this morning to this heartbreaking story: http://www.omaha.com/livewellnebraska/health/grace-in-heart-wrenching-situation-baby-brought-here-from-congo/article_f080594b-e4a3-5cfb-8e7a-afc05cd8f786.html. Healthcare issues have been in our discussions a lot lately. What we don't want to talk about is the fact that medical resources are to some extent rationed, whether under single payer, or private insurance. Especially something like organ transplants, which are initially very expensive, and are an ongoing expense for the rest of the recipient's life. The trifecta of factors working against this baby getting a liver transplant are the initial $750K cost, the shortage of donated organs (there is always more need than supply), and the lack of medical support for the ongoing care of transplant patients in the family's country of origin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
From the article:
"Dr. Art Caplan, a medical ethicist based at New York University, said Ticvah’s case shines a light “into some uncomfortable areas of our attitudes.”
Like: What are our duties to children? Does it matter where in the world they live? And what about the very real costs, which don’t end after surgery? Caplan said anti-rejection drugs can cost $50,000 a year."
When we allocate care to one patient, what happens if that means we are denying it to another? What do both justice and mercy require us to do?