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Journal of Transplantation
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 307130, 10 pages
Review Article

Risk Assessment and Management for Medically Complex Potential Living Kidney Donors: A Few Deontological Criteria and Ethical Values

Bioethics Unit, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Via Giano della Bella 34, 00162 Roma, Italy

Received 17 August 2011; Accepted 24 October 2011

Academic Editor: Aleksandra Kukla

Copyright © 2011 Carlo Petrini. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A sound evaluation of every bioethical problem should be predicated on a careful analysis of at least two basic elements: (i) reliable scientific information and (ii) the ethical principles and values at stake. A thorough evaluation of both elements also calls for a careful examination of statements by authoritative institutions. Unfortunately, in the case of medically complex living donors neither element gives clear-cut answers to the ethical problems raised. Likewise, institutionary documents frequently offer only general criteria, which are not very helpful when making practical choices. This paper first introduces a brief overview of scientific information, ethical values, and institutionary documents; the notions of “acceptable risk” and “minimal risk” are then briefly examined, with reference to the problem of medically complex living donors. The so-called precautionary principle and the value of solidarity are then discussed as offering a possible approach to the ethical problem of medically complex living donors.