Rambam Forum

Challenges in Organ Transplantation

Rafael Beyar


Organ transplantation has progressed tremendously with improvements in surgical methods, organ preservation, and pharmaco-immunologic therapies and has become a critical pathway in the management of severe organ failure worldwide. The major sources of organs are deceased donors after brain death; however, a substantial number of organs come from live donations, and a significant number can also be obtained from non-heart-beating donors. Yet, despite progress in medical, pharmacologic, and surgical techniques, the shortage of organs is a worldwide problem that needs to be addressed internationally at the highest possible levels. This particular field involves medical ethics, religion, and society behavior and beliefs. Some of the critical ethical issues that require aggressive interference are organ trafficking, payments for organs, and the delicate balance in live donations between the benefit to the recipient and the possible harm to the donor and others. A major issue in organ transplantation is the definition of death and particularly brain death. Another major critical factor is the internal tendency of a specific society to donate organs. In the review below, we will discuss the various challenges that face organ donation worldwide, and particularly in Israel, and some proposed mechanisms to overcome this difficulty.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2011;2(2):e0049