The power to bring new hopes to a sick child; to be able to free a dialysis patient; to offer another human being the most wonderful gift: organ transplantation, a gift of life ¦ With this perception is that we have to approach the transplantation of human organs. Nevertheless, with the complicated moral and ethical issues, the transplants have become a standard medical procedure to preserve the life of thousands of hopeless patients throughout the world.
Organ transplantation, once an uncommon, often extraordinary event, has rightfully assumed a prominent position among routine procedures performed at most medical centers. Few endeavors in medicine enable the physician to profoundly influence change in a patient's physiology and thereby improve the quality of life. Rapid expansion of the scientific foundations of immunology and surgery, as they apply to transplantation, has contributed to the accelerated growth in this field. No other development in the history of medicine has had the conceptual and philosophic implications of organ transplantation. In all past times, the objective of physicians and surgeons faced with diseases of an specific organ system was to extract the last moment of function from a failing organ using medicines or with surgical procedures that often were poorly conceived, but brilliantly executed. When the function of a vital organ system reached a certain level, the whole body died even though all the other organ systems were without defect.
It is breathtaking to contemplate the departure from this "rear-guard approach, which has been made possible through transplantation. With one bold stroke, health and life can be restored with considerable reliability and safety. The ability to provide these services has descended into the consciousness of a new generation of interdisciplinary observers including physicians, psychologists, social workers as well as patients.
At present, there