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Microsurgery. 2000;20(8):458-65.

Ethical considerations in composite tissue allotransplantation.

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Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.


Ethical issues posed by the hand transplant program conducted by hand and plastic surgeons at Jewish and University Hospitals, Louisville, Kentucky, are examined in this essay. Because a composite tissue allotransplantation (CTA) is an experimental procedure, it raises issues as to the protection of human subjects. The background for the emergence of medical ethics as a discipline is indicated and the processes employed by the CTA team in order to address ethical concerns are discussed. Questions are posed as to the justifications for certain procedures and those pertaining to the goals of medicine, informed consent, and patient quality of life. Other issues include benefits versus risks, patient autonomy and medical paternalism or non-maleficence. The Louisville team seems to have dealt conscientiously with all ethical questions that have been posed and has treated the hand recipient with competence and continuity of care. No reasons based in ethical concerns have surfaced that would in any way discredit the program.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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