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A Case of Tissue Ownership

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Tissue Debate

The aftermath of prolonged procrastination regarding how tissue ownership should be dealt with has caused confusion and frustration for doctors, clients, as well as law representatives. If there was a definitive set of standards doctors had to follow, court cases would drop substantially and minimize arguments. For many years, the tissue debate has been left unanswered, but Congress needs to take action to support the rights of the patients’ choices.

It is my assumption that many of today’s researchers have become more invested in the monetary profit than the actual research itself. In the article “ Taking the Least of You,” by Rebecca Skloot, she tells us that, “we live in a market driven society, and science is part of the market” (Skloot 19) and that “[r]esearchers have become entrepreneurs” (Skloot 20) which tells us that a big portion of their studies has been intended for profiting from it. Although not all scientists, researchers, and doctors are like this, there have been enough cases to support the idea that money is a huge part of the tissue research industry.

Even with the minimal regulations researchers in the medical field must follow, not all of them obey the rules set to help sort out the confusion. For example, although there is a rule that “requires that scientists tell people if they are participating in research,” (Skloot 13) many do not follow that law and “[keep] using patient’s tissue” (Skloot 8) without their knowledge of the situation. This is why there should be more strict laws regarding consent and how tissue is used. Possible punishments will help to attain a goal of respecting those laws so that people would think twice before illegally using part of someone’s body without their knowledge or credit they deserve.

There have been only a few cases where a patient has claimed their own tissue. For example, when Moore had found out about his tissues, “he claimed property rights over those tissues” and proceeded to take action and “became the first person to legally stake claim over his tissue and sue for profits and damages” (Skloot 6). Lawsuits are a common thing amongst doctors who use tissue from a patient because the patient almost never profits, nor does he get the recognition he deserves.

On the other hand, research from cells and tissues taken are extremely beneficial to the scientific community. Without the research scientists have done, many diseases would have been left untreatable such as Hepatitis B. Ted Slavin’s cells carried antibodies that were extremely valuable to research. Later on, his antibodies would help find the first vaccines and treatments for the hepatitis b virus. Even though the tissues were used for medical advancements, it is still unsound to not properly inform a patient.

Congress needs to pass new laws regarding consent on tissue use as well as regulations. The new laws that would pass would minimize issues between doctors and patients, and clear up any future cases. This is why I believe strict laws to help benefit the patients would help all people who are concerned in their tissues and ownership.

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