Biomedical Ethics in the Christian Narrative

Pressing Issues: The Christian Perspective

Because of significant advances that have been made over centuries, people that follow set Christian principles rigidly may face a dilemma when dealing with health-related issues, as the case under analysis shows. The concept of organ donation and transplanting is a question of, especially convoluted nature. Having been written long before the notion of a transplant became an integral part of healthcare, the Bible does not contain any indications that allow qualifying organ donation and its transplantation as either strictly forbidden or entirely allowed, hence the moral ambiguity. Therefore, the issues that Mike and Joanne have been facing run the gamut of viewing organ donation as an act of love for their child and, thus, saving his life, to defining the subject matter as mutilation of both their son and a potential donor.

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The lack of clarity that the Christian vision provides regarding organ donation and transplantation leads Mike and Joanne to a morally grey area where they are forced to redefine the basic Biblical principles. Consequently, they face the danger of interpreting the Biblical principles and teachings in a way that meets their own needs as opposed to following the word of God. At the same time, Mike and Joanne fear losing their son to a disease in the situation that they can potentially influence. Since in any scenario that they choose the mistake comes at an extraordinarily high price, be it the death of their son or the refutation of the Christian faith, the parents are understandably confused. Therefore, it will be necessary to help them align their priorities in order and realize what options they currently have.

Decision-Making and the Patient’s Well-Being

Apart from being emotionally strenuous, the case under analysis opens its own set of ethical dilemmas that complicates the idea of allowing a patient or their parents to participate in decision-making. The lack of awareness concerning the threats that a particular disease implies coupled with the presence of prejudices against certain forms of treatment may reduce one’s chances for survival significantly. In the identified case, allowing the parents to make further choices concerning the child’s treatment does not seem legitimate given the drastic mistake that they have made recently by refusing to accept the proposed therapy.

The fact that the parents changed their minds after they realized what toll their decision had taken on their son might be seen as the argument in favor of giving Mike and his wife some agency in making further choices regarding the well-being of both of their children. However, one must keep in mind that the parents are currently experiencing severe stress and are likely to be very emotional about their decisions. In addition, the issue of faith may become a hindrance on the way to ensuring James’ well-being.

At present, it is desirable to educate the parents about the disease and the threats that James is facing. Thus, Mike and Joanne will have a proper understanding of the health problems that their son is facing, as well as the possible health outcomes that he has. At the same time, the physician has to insist on the kidney transplant as the only possible solution that the parents can make to keep their child alive. It will be necessary to explain that James’s brother Samuel is unlikely to face any serious health consequences after donating the kidney to his brother and that James will be unable to survive without the transplant (Pérez‐Bertólez et al., 2017). The suggested technique is expected to convince the parents to view the possibility of their other son donating a kidney.

Case Analysis Based on the Christian Narrative

To scrutinize the problem described above through the lens of the Christian narrative, one will need to approach the problem from the perspective of caregiving and sacrifice. Put differently, it is reasonable to consider organ donation to be an act of love and devotion to a member of the Christian community. Based on the existing principles established in the Bible, the specified opinion is a legitimate way of approaching the phenomenon of donating organs and organ transplantations from a Christian perspective.

Indeed, a closer look at the traditional Christian discourse will show that there are several statements in the Bible indicating that caring for others should be the core value based on which one makes decisions. Specifically, there is a statement that can be regarded as the impetus for encouraging healthcare practitioners to choose the options that are most beneficial for patients’ health. The statement mentioned above is “Love your neighbor as yourself. When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest” (Leviticus 19:9-18 (English Standard Version)). Although the identified element of the Christian narrative does not directly correlate with the idea of encouraging therapists to make decisions for their patients, it emphasizes the importance of nonmaleficence as an element of healthcare ethics.

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Therefore, when considering the case through the lens of the Christian narrative, one should see the active promotion of patient education and the focus on encouraging kidney transplantation surgery as the only possible course of action. The parents lack the knowledge required to evaluate the scale of the threat that their child is facing. In addition, there is a high probability that Mike and Joanne will not be able to select the appropriate treatment options due to the emotional issues that they currently have. Thus, based on the element of the Christian narrative, one should view the further encouragement of the surgery as the only sensible solution.

Sickness and Health: the Christian Viewpoint

There are several opinions in Christianity regarding health management and health-associated concerns. Throughout the history of Christianity, the ideas of illness and disease management have changed drastically. While sickness used to be viewed from the perspective of martyrdom, which discouraged the active treatment of health concerns, diseases are regarded as an undesirable state of being in the contemporary Christian perspective (Holman Bible Publishers, 2018). Particularly, the empathy and compassion that Jesus had for people with health problems, including the blind, the sick, and other types of vulnerable populations, provides the platform for focusing on active health management within a Christian community (Veatch & Ross, 2015). The specified approach subverts the classical Christian interpretation of disease as the promotion of the idea of suffering as the path to saintliness (Mitchell & Riley, 2014). Instead, it offers a more rational and reasonable framework for handling health issues and even supports the enhancement of health literacy among community members, thus promoting the active improvement of their health. Therefore, as a Christian, Mike should use all available tools for saving his son’s life and creating an environment in which James’ health issues will be addressed.

References

Holman Bible Publishers. (2018). CSB worldview study Bible. Nashville, TN: Holman.

Mitchell, C. B., & Riley, D. J. (2014). Christian bioethics: A guide for pastors, health care professionals, and families. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group.

Pérez‐Bertólez, S., Barrero, R., Fijo, J., Alonso, V., Ojha, D., Fernández‐Hurtado, M. Á.,… García‐Merino, F. (2017). Outcomes of pediatric living donor kidney transplantation: A single‐center experience. Pediatric Transplantation, 21(3), e12881. Web.

Veatch, R. M., & Ross, L. F. (2015). Transplantation ethics (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

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