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Medical Ethics Without the Rhetoric: Case Eight, Never Too Old For Love


The patient is an eighty-two year old male who is in excellent physical condition – except for his need for a kidney. Otherwise, he has the physical condition of a sixty-year-old. His wife who, in fact, is a sixty-year-old wants to donate a kidney to her husband. The medical professionals involved in the case believe that the organ could be successfully harvested and that the transplant might well extend the life of the husband. The wife is in good enough health to qualify as a donor in medical terms, but her age would generally disqualify her. The issues of the wife’s age qualification aside, the medical professionals involved have qualms about transplanting an organ for an eighty-twoyear-old person, even if the person is otherwise healthy. There is no question of who is going to pay as the couple is wealthy and will cover all costs. Some of the involved medical professionals even feel that there is something to be learned from performing a transplant in such an unusual case. Putting aside legal and regulatory concerns, is it ethically permissible to perform the transplant?