Biomedical ethics class takes on organ shortage

Class looks at the ethical problems with organ transplants in Canada and how they can be solved

The decision to become an organ donor is an important choice to make, and the Biomedical Ethics class has made it their duty to inform TRU students through an organ drive.

Roughly 15 students being led by third-year science student Joshua Yoneda and fourth-year science student Taysia Worsfold have teamed up with the B.C. Transplant Society. The class will have booths set up handing out brochures and registration forms bringing awareness to the ethical problems stemming from the shortage of organs available in Canada.

As many as 4,500 Canadians are awaiting an organ transplant, according to the most recent numbers from the government, and in 2011, 256 people died waiting for a transplant, one-third who needed a kidney.

Joshua Yoneda poses with a model of human organs he hopes to bring awareness to this week through his class's organ drive. (Ashley Wadhwani/ The Omega)

Joshua Yoneda poses with a model of human organs he hopes to bring awareness to this week through his class’s organ drive. (Ashley Wadhwani/ The Omega)

The class will be graded on the drive, as part of an “ethics in action” assignment, by professor Jeff McLaughlin. Yoneda and Worsfold teamed up based on their shared interest in organ transplant and similar interests in medicine.

The class voted on a biomedical issue and part of the criteria is how the class acts on a solution. For Yoneda, an increase in awareness is more important than the actual number of students that decide to become an organ donor at their booths.

“Our main goal is not to pressure people to sign up, it’s to raise awareness on how the organ donation system works and the benefits that a transplant can provide to society.

“The problem is, now the government…has to decide who needs it first. This [shortage] generates another ethical problem, where people are travelling to other countries to purchase illegal organs,” Yoneda said.

This illegal purchasing of organs, referred to as “transplant tourism,” directly stems from the shortage of available organs in Canada, specifically kidneys and livers, according to Persons Against the Crime of Trafficking in Humans.

Those looking overseas for organs risk being exploited and are more susceptible to infection.

On Nov. 20, there will be a booth set up in the Science building from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the Tournament Capital Centre from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Computers will be set up for anyone interested in registering at the booth through the online Organ Donor Registry.