Cover art for podcast Distillations | Science History Institute

Distillations | Science History Institute

294 EpisodesProduced by Science History InstituteWebsite

Each episode of Distillations podcast takes a deep-dive into a moment of science-related history in order to shed light on the present.


Do You Need That Kidney? Rethinking the Ethics of Organ Transplants

Scientists experimented with skin and organ transplants for a long time before they finally met with success in the mid-20th century. Now surgeons are expert at performing transplants. The only problem? There aren’t enough organs to go around, which creates some serious ethical dilemmas.

First, reporter Dalia Mortada takes us to Tel Aviv, Israel, where a dialysis patient waiting for a new kidney is running out of patience. Conflicting religious interpretations have prevented many Israelis from signing up to become organ donors. This has created a serious supply-and-demand problem, leading many desperate patients to the black market. Mortada tells us how this trend is slowly changing and talks to the doctors, rabbis, and bioethicists behind the shift.

Then we talk to American bioethicists Art Caplan and Robert Baker about the pitfalls of the U.S. donation system. “You sign up when you go to Motor Vehicles,” Caplan says, “which may not be the ultimately wonderful place to make [these] decisions, other than the fact that you may wait there long enough to die there, in which case they can probably get your organs.”

Show Clock:

00:04 Introduction01:13 Waiting for a kidney in Tel Aviv10:25 Why do we need Bioethics?


Hosts: Michal Meyer and Bob KenworthyGuests: Art Caplan and Robert BakerReporter: Dalia MortadaProducer: Mariel CarrAssociate Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez


Music courtesy of the Audio Network

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