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science
INSIDE THE ETHICS COMMITTEE
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Inside the Ethics Committee
Wednesdays 11, 18 May & 1 June 2005 8.00-8.45pm
Saturdays 14, 21 & 28 May 10.15-11.00pm
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Wed 18 May 2005 (rpt Sat)
Listen to this programme in full
As medicine becomes ever more complex, so do the ethical dilemmas facing medical staff, patients and their families.

In this new three-part series, Inside the Ethics Committee, Vivienne Parry presents real life cases to a panel of experts from clinical ethics committees in hospitals around the UK.
 
Full programme transcript >>

Programme 2 - Temporary Transplants

In the second programme, the panel discusses the ethics behind giving patients temporary organ transplants.

Baby A was born with a bowel disorder. Shortly after birth, much of the small bowel was removed and the baby had to be fed intravenously. A side-effect of this treatment is liver damage, which Baby A soon developed.

To survive in the long term, Baby A needs a combined liver and bowel transplant, which must be performed at the same time.

But bowels are in short supply - it could be 6-12 months before a suitable one becomes available.

The only hope for Baby A is a temporary liver transplant to keep them alive until the combined liver and bowel transplant becomes available. However, this temporary liver will again be damaged by the intravenous feeding and will need to be replaced in the final operation.

Should Baby A be given this temporary liver? This same organ could bring years of life to one of 15 suitable children on the UK transplant waiting list.

Ethical issues

The panel will discuss the following points:

- Who should make decisions about a child's best interests - parents or doctors?

- What happens when they disagree about treatment?

- With waiting lists growing, should this organ be given to the patient with the best chance of survival?

- What's more important, preventing a death or saving a life?

Programme 1 - Treating a Jehovah's Witness
Programme 3 - End of Life

More Information:

UK Clinical Ethics Network

UK Transplant - transplant information
The British Liver Trust - Research
Cruse Bereavement Care - Helpline
BBC Health
BBC Religion & Ethics
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