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Ethics of Bioprinting Organs

Over a 100,000 people are on the waiting list for an organ transplant that could save their life. Although we are a few decades of from clearing up all the technical problems that comes with 3D-printed organs we have to begin to think about the ethical issues that will come with Bioprinting. This type of technology could save many people if they can afford it.

3D Printing will allow for personalized treatments for many different kinds of ailments. However, like today anything that you are not able to mass produce will be costly and printing functioning organs is extremely complex. We have to ask the question related to money first. Would everyone be able to afford these treatments and if not should we deny those who could afford the treatment? Is it fair to leave those who cannot afford it on the organ transplant list not knowing if an organ will arrive in time to save their lives?

Another issue that will come up with Bioprinting is during clinical trials. Those who try these new technologies first will be desperate and will serve as guinea pigs.With any new technology there will be a lot of failure before we figure out the right methods and techniques required to be successful and in many cases patients are not fully aware of this fact. They put their faith in the hands of their doctor who may or may not explain the procedure and the risks completely. Who will be making sure that doctors do not coerce the patients into having a procedure which my potentially do more harm then good just to further their research?

In 2004 the Biomedical Engineering Society approved a code of ethics. The ethics code addresses many of the issues that I have talked about today but who is making sure that bioengineers  follow these guidelines. 3D printing will be affecting our lives and our society in ways that we can only begin to imagine. It is vital to start dealing with the many ethical issues we will face as we move forward with Bioengineering.