In 2003, the first 3-way living kidney donor-swap was performed at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md. Three new donor protocols including paired donation now allow unrelated individuals to serve as donors. Some ethicists have suggested that emotionally unrelated individuals not be permitted to donate because they will not experience the same satisfaction that a family member who is a donor experiences. Others who frame living donation as an autonomous choice do not see emotionally unrelated or even nondirected donation as ethically problematic. This article uses an ethical framework of principlism to examine living donation. Principles salient to living donation include autonomy, beneficence, and nonmaleficence. The following criteria are used to evaluate autonomous decision making by living donors, including choices made (1) with understanding, (2) without influence that controls and determines their action, and (3) with intentionality. Empirical work in these areas is encouraged to inform the ethical analysis of the new living donor protocols.
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