Distributive Justice

Since human organs are very expensive and scarce, the circumstances surrounding successful organ transplant that does not follow an ethical criteria raises more questions than answers. Since the organs are very few and expensive, it is obvious that not many people in need will be able to acquire them.

In fact, if finding an organ for transplant were determined by the patient, then only the rich would benefit from organ transplant. To avoid biasness, the United Network for Organ Sharing unified lists of surgery patients and suggested allocation criteria. Another alternative is for each transplant centre to keep its own wait list based on UNOS criteria.

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From the case study, it is vivid that Krimptiz’s quest for and eventual success in getting a liver transplant is unethical since it violates UNOS allocation criteria. This essay reflects on this situation and illustrates how this procedure failed to meet expectations.

The UNOS selection criteria recommend the use of a list of organ transplant patients according to the urgency of the transplant needed. The criteria also requires that “one gets a quick transplant only if there are no other patients near that transplant centre in a more urgent situation” (Moon, 2002). Krampitz and his wife avoided the criteria because he knew that there are more urgent cases than his.

The case reports that there were 17000 patients requiring similar transplant, of which more than a thousand came from his place. He therefore used media to get a willing liver donor. Reflecting on this issue, one can justifiably conclude that Kramptitz’s transplant was unethical since it ignored the plight of other patients who were probably in a worse condition than his.

Prior to the transplant, Krampitz’s case did not make any urgency considerations. It reveals that even though he genuinely needed a liver transplant, his case was not as serious as others’. Some patients in a similar condition were near to death than he really was. Besides, it is evident that his cancerous state was so serious that making a transplant work for him was impossible (Caplan, 2004).

In other words there was a high likelihood that the kidney transplant would fail. Knowing well that there were so many other patients out there whose transplant had no fatal complications like his, it was quite unethical for Krampitz’s doctor making the liver transplant.

Knowing that UNOS criteria would delay his quest for an immediate surgery, Krampitz decides to use non medical criteria to get a liver for his transplant. He uses ads, television and other means to inform the public about his condition and invite any well wisher to donate their liver (Caplan, 2004).

One could argue that through ads, they could convince more people to donate and help other patients in a similar condition but this is not true. Their primary goal was to convince a family to donate a liver directly to Krampitz instead of a transplant center.

Based on this, one can justifiably conclude that this move was unethical since it was based on personal interest. In addition, it neglected the policy of “fair chance” in getting a liver for transplant.

Krampitz’s quest and eventual success in getting a liver transplant is unethical. It neglects the UNOS organ allocation criteria by cutting the line.

It is also egocentric because it is based on personal interest and neglects other patients in a more critical condition. Munson (2002, 56), states that for organ distributive justice to prevail, people should follow the UNOS allocation criteria or use non medical criteria beneficial to all patients in a similar condition.


Caplan, A. (2004). Cutting in line for Organ Transplants. Retrieved from

Moon, L. (2002). Organ Allocation. Retrieved from

Munson, R. (2002). Raising the Dead. New York: Oxford University Press.


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