A fellowship focused on developing physician expertise on the ethical issues involved in organ transplantation has been created by Cleveland Clinic, the medical center recently announced.
“Organ shortages, allocation issues and informed consent policies for living donors are among the many ethical issues that confront the transplant field,” said Dr. Eric Kodish, director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Ethics, Humanities and Spiritual Care, in a Nov. 7 statement. “By establishing the nation’s only current transplant ethics fellowship, we will develop experts in an area of medicine that will only become more complex in terms of ethics.”
Dr. Eric Kodish
Dr. David Shafran is the program’s first fellow. Shafran graduated from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv, Israel; completed his pediatrics residency at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y.; and is currently a pediatric nephrology fellow at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.
Shafran and Dr. Kathryn Weise, the program’s director, are developing a curriculum that will effectively familiarize fellows with the core ethical issues surrounding organ transplantation and provide ample material and opportunity for independent research, according to the Clinic. Once adequately established, the curriculum and program in general could potentially serve as a model for similar projects at other health care institutions.
“The goal and challenge in bioethics is to keep the conversation about the emerging issues on pace with rapid advances in medical technology,” Shafran said. “Similarly, as our medical capabilities in organ transplantation progress, it behooves us to address the commensurate ethical issues methodically and comprehensively. This fellowship represents an acknowledgement of that responsibility.”
A donation from former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin and his wife, Judith, helped create the fellowship. The program’s steering committee includes Dr. David Goldfarb, director of the renal transplant program; Dr. Charles Miller, director of the liver transplant program; and Martin Smith, director of clinical ethics. Weise also directs the Cleveland Fellowship of Advanced Bioethics.
More than 120,000 people are awaiting organ transplants in the United States. In 2012, 28,051 people received organ transplants, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.