Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The hospital wing and the cure
Imagine a hospital wing in which lie 100 patients, in comas and unresponsive to external stimuli for the past 6 months due to a so-far incurable and terminal illness, which happens to move slowly in comatose victims. You are the admin of that wing and know that a cure, the only possibility, is being worked on, but is not ready yet.
Scenario 1: The cure is announced to be close, within the next few weeks, and you have every reason to expect it will be delivered on time. The cure is projected to bring ~20% of the patients to recovery, and that's the best that can be hoped for at this time.
Question on Scenario 1: Is it justifiable to harvest the patients' bodily organs (thus killing them) for medical experimentation before giving them the cure?
Scenario 2: The cure is discovered to be far off, ~5 years or more, and the projected recovery rate is ~20%. The patients' conditions are generally not expected to worsen in ~5 years.
Question on Scenario 2: Is it justifiable to harvest the patients' bodily organs (thus killing them) for medical experimentation while waiting for the cure?
Scenario 3: The cure is nearly available, but only 80 doses are available anytime soon. 80 of the patients are around the age of 40. The other 20 are teenagers and in their 20s. You as the hospital admin have no access to any info about their lives or families.
Question on Scenario 3: Is it justifiable to give the doses to the 40-year-olds because they are more developed and have greater ability and intelligence?
Now, if you haven't figured it out yet, conduct the following replacements:
-"terminally ill patients" -> lines of fertilised embryos that are frozen in stem-cell lines
-"medical experimentation" -> medical experimentation
-"cure" -> implantation into a woman's uterus in order to grow to full-term and be born like normal
-"recovery" -> surviving the implantation process and being born