Should Alcoholics Receive Liver Transplants?

Heavy drinking or alcoholism can severely damage the liver, and the majority of the time if their liver fails, they aren’t eligible to receive transplants. At first glance this makes sense: when a person is destroying their own liver, they don’t deserve another one as much as someone who’s liver has failed on its own accord. Also, the alcoholic is more likely to destroy the new liver, right?

But if you accept the American Medical Association (AMA) position that alcoholism is a disease, should the patient be punished because of it? Most transplant programs around the world require at least six months of alcohol abstinence before they will consider a transplant but this requirement, while understandable given the scarcity of livers for patients in need, amounts to a death sentence for 70% to 80% of patients that need a transplant as most of them don’t even last two months without a new liver.

What do you guys think? Should alcoholics receive transplants? What if they’re unable to control their alcoholism and damage the new liver? But then what if, without the transplant, they have no chance of survival?

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One response to “Should Alcoholics Receive Liver Transplants?

  1. An absolutely huge moral dilemma – on first glance I say vigorously no! – yet i honestly believe everyone deserves a second chance. Perhaps a priority system re donation receivers?

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