Convicted Criminals and Organ Transplant;Should a teenager with a criminal history be denied a heart transplant?

Convicted Criminals and Organ Transplant;Should a teenager with a criminal history be denied a heart transplant?
It is unethical to deny medical treatment to those convicted of crimes to the extent of not allowing them to receive an organ transplant. The most critical question here is if the status of an individual as convicted or not is a factor to consider in reaching out to the decision of eligibility for an organ transplant. Some argue that it should never be a matter of discussion because the said convicted person is being punished only for a specific mater. Therefore, denying them medical services is another irrational punishment.

Convicted Criminals and Organ Transplant;Should a teenager with a criminal history be denied a heart transplant?

They further argue that criminals who have not been given a life sentence should be expected back to the community to begin their lives; therefore, they deserve a right to healthcare as any other civilian (Kangasniemi, Pakkanen, & Korhonen., 2015). Additionally, the bill of rights that supports the right of healthcare to every citizen does not exclude the convicted persons. Sometimes one can wonder if the decision-makers against transplant to the convicted would behave the same if they were dealing with someone they love; their friend or relative.

Ethical Principles

Ethical principles are fundamental to healthcare because it guides healthcare workers to ensure patient safety and care. There are several ethical principles of health; it includes the following; non-maleficence, which directs the nurses to maintain competence and report any abuse of the patients in the line of duty. Beneficence which guides the nurses, that in everything they do, it should be to the benefit of the patient. Autonomy dictates that patients should retain control over their bodies. Fidelity is based on the virtue of caring, where the nurse is expected to keep their commitments. Justice is where all patients should be treated equally and fairly. Lastly is the principle of totality and integrity where the nurse is expected to consider the person as a whole before performing specific procedures or giving certain medications to them (Butts, & Rich., 2019).

Most of these ethical principles support the idea that the convicted should not be denied medical services. These principles include justice, non-maleficence, beneficence autonomy, and fidelity. However, totality and integrity conflict this idea because the nurse is expected to consider a variety of things before making decisions of the care for their patients. For one to be deemed fit to organ transplant, they have to go through a series of medical and non-medical evaluation. Some factors like substance abuse, psychological problems, lack of funds, infectious diseases may be a barrier to the eligibility of a convicted to qualify for an organ transplant.

American Nurses Association Code of Ethics Provisions

The American Nurses Association (ANA) code of ethics is brief guidelines, obligations, and duties to every individual who joins the nursing profession in the united states of America. ANA has several ethical provision. The following ethical provisions support the ethical dilemma of whether the convicted should receive an organ transplant; provision 2, which states that the primary role of the nurse is the patient, provision 3, which states that it is the duty of the nurses to promote advocacy and protect the rights of the patient and provision 8, which states that the nurse should lias with other health professionals so as to reduce health disparities and promote health diplomacy (Olson, & Stokes., 2016). The code of ethics provision mentioned above is very significant in guiding the nurses in ethical dilemmas. While on duty, the nurse will be guided by these provisions to think of the patient only. They will fight for the rights of the patient against all odds; hence, most of the ethical dilemma which harms the patient will be avoided and quality care will be achieved.

Outcomes and Plan

The stand against denying medical care to the convicted persons supported by the ethical principles, code of ethics, and human rights is a win. The immense support should be employed to fight for the rights of individuals denied healthcare. There are numerous human rights agencies in our communities which can be used to protect the rights of voiceless individuals like the convicted. Human rights agencies can mobilize relevant authorities to pass laws that will ensure that everyone enjoys healthcare regardless of their status. Similarly, they can assist in fighting the law battles in courts defending the individuals who have been denied medical services. Parameters that can be used to curb ethical dilemma can be; establishing facts that surround ethical dilemma to find a proper approach to deal with it and draw a line on the strict adherence of legal obligations and duties (Masters., 2018).


Kangasniemi, M., Pakkanen, P., & Korhonen, A. (2015). Professional ethics in nursing: an integrative review. Journal of advanced nursing, 71(8), 1744-1757.

Masters, K. (2018). Role development in professional nursing practice. Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Moghavem, N., & Magnus, D. (2019). Ethical Considerations in Transplant Patients. In Psychosocial Care of End-Stage Organ Disease and Transplant Patients (pp. 527-538). Springer, Cham.

Olson, L. L., & Stokes, F. (2016). The ANA code of ethics for nurses with interpretive statements: Resource for nursing regulation. Journal of Nursing Regulation, 7(2), 9-20.


My take on the dilemma of whether the convicted persons should receive health care is not different. Healthcare is a fundamental right for every individual. Before anyone makes such a decision which is a matter of life and death, it is prudent if they can take some time to reflect if it was them in that scenario where they desperately need an organ. Having been raised from a Christian environment, I will consider such a decision as murder and biblically, it is only God that is allowed to take a life. Additionally, its only God’s responsibility to judge; therefore, the conviction should not be a factor to determine the eligibility of one to get an organ transplant.