Moral dilemma question?

So...this morning at breakfast (none of us are in school today) we were talking about different things and a question came up from my mother. The question is..."If a distant cousin you have never met was terminally ill and a bone marrow transplant (or other life saving operation) could save his or her life but there is only a 50% chance he/she will survive and there is a 50% chance the operation might kill you as well, would you do it"? Would it make a difference if this person did not believe or live as you do? Would it make a difference if the person was old or young? Would it make a difference what kind of life they have led (in other words are you less apt to donate to a person who spent 10 years in prison as opposed to a person with a reputation as a kind and helpful person)? Would it make a difference if the person were wealthy or not? Would you expect to be paid for your trouble if the person was? Would you expect to be paid? Would it make a difference if YOU had children and how old those children are or the wishes of your family?

Does your religion play in how you answered this question?

I know there are many possible combinations and my mother has a tendency to ask questions where we all answer quickly with one word (yes or no) and then have to stop and really think. I am sure a few people may have been in this dilemma (or similar to it ) but I know no one who has so I can only think about it from a "mental exercise" perspective.

So...just curious. What would YOU do?

Just out of interest, if you decide to answer, can you state your religion and age (if you want...if not, that is fine too....I am just curious if different religions will answer differently and if age influences the answer.

Thanks to all


@Eclipse-girl--Yeah ok. Organ donation is down due to me. It it s hypothetical question and I obviously have no medical training. I guess you just answered to moan about it. No one would base their possible organ donation on this question or these answers. I said "or other life saving operation". If anyone decides that they don't want to donate an organ/blood/bone marrow etc based on this question, then they are not capable of making an informed decision in the first place and therefore, should probably not be donating at all.

Update 2:

@Eclipse-girl--If you are getting tired of hypothetical questions then may I be so bold as to suggest you not answer them. I am touchy only when people answer a question and then attack the asker. Again, if someone uses this question as a reason to not donate, then they are not capable of making an informed decision and should not donate to begin with....but hey, thanks for playin'.

Update 3:

@Barracudaaa--Sorry. It was kind of a rambling question. I usually answer questions, not ask them so my questions get rambling. No, just an overview of what you would do and if you answer changes I guess under different scenarios but as Eclipse girl has a problem with it being bone marrow lets say "its some life saving operation you are needed for" and maybe she can sleep better at night....but the questions still remain the same I guess.

Update 4:

Ok...let me clarify this. ORGAN DONATIONS ARE A GOOD THING and are usually VERY SAFE. Now, that is out of the lets say the 50% change of survival is an issue with YOUR medical condition or something along those lines. It is a thought exercise people. Do they not do these in schools outside Yeshivot? It is a hypothetical question.

Update 5:

@Eclipse-girl---A factual error on a hypothetical question?! If I asked a hypothetical question about zombies would you correct that too "There are no such thing as zombies and blah blah blah"? You are quite smitten with yourself, aren't you?

Update 6:

@Unix---So, where do we draw the line (I actually answered with your answer too...but my brother asked "where is the line" and I had to admit, I didn't know)

@Vern7us---So would possible guilt be your reason for doing it then?

8 Answers

  • 7 years ago
    Best Answer

    Interesting question of virtue ethics, such a question in ethics goes back to the 1950s with wider use of transplantation. It was considered by some immoral given it violates the Principle of Totality by Thomas Aquinas, that is the destruction of an organ from its natural purpose in its natural being. That said, there is also the issue of proportionate reason. And in this case, do I believe 50% is a risk worth taking. In medical ethics it's typically preferred for a matching deceased donor because of these issues presented, even though the virtue ethics of deceased organs can also be controversial.

    If the chance is 50% across any and all donations or transplants then my conclusion would be no, I would not, regardless of the other issues you raised. The reason primarily due to the mathematical probability of survival, given both of us there is a larger chance than 50% that one or both of us will die. However, if it was a standard procedure at normal running risk levels, such as bone marrow transplant (I have donated marrow before), then I almost certainly would. And if it were to be say, a kidney transplant at normal medical risk levels, then there lifestyle would matter - for instance if they're living unhealthily (I.e. alcohol abuse), I would be unwilling to help in this scenario. Otherwise, financial standing, affiliation, etc, would make no difference and I would never seek monetary gain from such a decision. And certainly, whether they had children would factor into my decision given I am incapable of children myself.

  • ?
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    I would have risked my life to save someone else's before I had children but not now, no. Even so, these odds are too high. I would not want another young, healthy person to risk their life for me and so would probably feel justified in saying the odds were too dangerous for me. Unless it was a child I could save and then I'd think their life was worth more than mine. I have no religion and am a 38 year old English woman.

  • 7 years ago

    The premise is false.

    Bone marrow donations are painful for the donor, but it is a routine operation.

    It is not a 50% chance that the donor will die.

    Spreading false information like this, even in a hypothetical question, often causes people to reject the possibility of donation.


    Touchy today, aren't we.

    I am tired of getting non sensical hypotheticals.

    You should have just left it as a life threatening operation.

    All it takes is someone to read this and pass it on to someone else as factual, for your statement to a affect the possibility of a donation


    I answered this question because there was a factual error.

    In correcting that error, I did not attack you.

  • 7 years ago

    Sorry. If I only had a 50% chance of surviving, then no, I would not do it. Honest answer.

    If it were my child, yes, in a heartbeat.

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  • 7 years ago

    if the person died because of no transplant then you would feel guilty because you would know there was a slight chance they could have lived with the transplant. i would do that for any religion

  • 7 years ago

    Im confused as to whether you want specific answers to each question asked or just a general response. Ill edit my answer when and i you choose to clarify.

  • unix
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    I doubt i would do it.

    im christian

    there are limits to the risks one should/ would take. For a much closer relative i would probably take the risk.

  • JohnH
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    honestly, i would not do it.


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