Ethical considerations in pediatric heart transplantation

Sarah J. Wilkens*, Jeffrey G. Gossett, Angira Patel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Pediatric heart transplantation as a field has evolved over the last 50 years and is now a widely accepted therapy for children with end-stage heart failure. The major ethical principles that guide equitable allocation of organs include utility, justice, and respect for autonomy. In this chapter, we discuss historical perspectives, current state of the field, and explore how ethical principles guide recipient selection and donor allocation. Additionally, other ethical themes that are discussed include: surgical innovation and informed consent; psychosocial issues in transplantation; quality of life and end of life care; genetic anomalies and developmental delay; and regulatory aspects of organ donation. Finally, we discuss recently published cases related to pediatric heart transplantation that highlight ethical conflicts, offer an ethical analysis, and suggest potential solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBioethical Controversies in Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783030356606
ISBN (Print)9783030356590
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Heart failure
  • Medical ethics
  • Organ and resource allocation
  • Pediatric heart transplantation
  • Ventricular assist device

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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