Ethical Follow-Up to Facial Transplant

Who are you?  How does the world see you?  Are you worth hundreds of thousands of dollars?  Is you identity worth more than the life of a child?

Welcome to the world of medical ethics, where there are more questions than answers and values defy logic and science.

Every aspect of science comes with ethical baggage – and it should.  There is always a cost/benefit analysis.  Is it worth funding  Columbus’s voyage to the new world?  Shouldn’t we fund a church instead and help save the souls of the poor?  Why send another rocket into space when cancer runs rampant?  Is this one woman’s quality of life worth the enormous expense of an experimental surgical procedure and follow-up care and drugs?  Is the value to medicine worth the money that can be spent on vaccinating children in the inner cities or the rural south?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, despite having struggled with them many times.

I’m just very glad they are being asked.

See today’s New York Times (it’s worth the online subscription) http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/18/health/18ethics.html?_r=1&emc=tnt&tntemail1=y

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Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN

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