Midday on Ethics with Dr. Jeffrey Kahn | WYPR

Midday on Ethics with Dr. Jeffrey Kahn

May 29, 2018

Dr. Jeffrey Kahn
Credit Johns Hopkins University

Before we begin today’s show, here’s a link that lists organizations that are helping people in Ellicott City with shelter, food and other humanitarian relief, following the severe flooding in that city’s historic downtown on Sunday – the second deadly flood in two years.

Today, it’s another edition of Midday on Ethics. We’re exploring some ethical questions pulled straight from the headlines. We begin with the ethics of organ transplantation, amid news of a medical breakthrough -- a transplant performed just weeks ago at Johns Hopkins Hospital here in Baltimore. For the first time, anywhere, doctors successfully performed a total penis and scrotum transplant on a service member who was injured in Afghanistan. Now that it’s possible to transplant a penis, or a uterus, what are the ethical issues that donors, recipients and transplant surgeons need to consider? Should we think about life-saving transplants like hearts and kidneys in the same way as non-lifesaving surgeries, the so-called quality-of-life transplants?

Plus, another news story caught our eye: California investigators used publicly available genetic information that was posted on an ancestry website to identify someone that they say is the Golden State Killer. He has been charged with murders police say he committed more than 30 years ago. Is your genetic information publicly available? Should it be, and if so, should it be more private than it is?

Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, the director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, is Tom’s guest today in Studio A.  Dr. Kahn stops by from time to time to help us explore how ethicists frame these kinds of very complex questions.