Ethics Corner: Ethical Principles at a Crossroad

The four ethical principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice form the bedrock upon which the profession of medicine is to be practiced with integrity and honesty. Physicians are expected to do good, refrain from causing harm, respect patients’ freedom of choice, and to act in a fair and balanced fashion.

For over 16 years, DAFOH has documented China’s blatant disregard for internationally accepted ethical principles in transplant medicine as outlined by the WHO’s Guiding Principles on Human Cell, Tissue and Organ Transplantation. In China there is a complete lack of transparency and traceability for organ sourcing, and there are overt sales and purchases of organs, which should raise significant objections from the international community.

Over the last two years of the global pandemic from a virus that originated in China, we have witnessed a change in how medical professionals have applied the four ethical principles. Decades long standards of medical practice appeared to have been abandoned. For instance, evidence that prophylaxis and early treatment of COVID-19 with safe and effective re-purposed drugs that significantly truncated morbidity and mortality was neglected, ignored, and suppressed. Physicians attempting to share their knowledge and success with measures that reduced hospitalization and saved lives were censored, sanctioned, and punished.

Despite the serious safety signals of death and serious disability as reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) as well as by Department of Defense whistleblowers reporting on the Defense Medical Epidemiology Database (DMED) along with recently released data from Pfizer’s own initial trials, COVID-19 vaccines are still being administered, recommended, and mandated.

The Nuremberg Code established the right to individual bodily autonomy and informed consent. Those who exercised these rights to decline vaccination were coerced, segregated, and suffered restrictions of liberties as a consequence. Alternative voices were censored and silenced when they questioned whether these actions were fair and balanced.

The Universal Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights, adopted in 2005, was written by UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in response to the global changes in scientific and technological developments and effects on ethics, human rights, and freedom.

Article 6. section 1. of the Universal Declaration states:

“Any preventative, diagnostic, and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free & informed consent of the person concerned based on adequate information. The consent should, where appropriate, be express and may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without disadvantage or prejudice.”

Measures instituted by governments around the world in response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic have included masking (e.g. preventative), testing (e.g. diagnostic), and vaccination (e.g. therapeutic medical intervention) that have mostly been carried out by forced mandates. According to Article 6. Section 1., have these actions been justified?

Article 6. section 2. of the Universal Declaration states:

“Scientific research should only be carried out with the prior, free, express and informed consent of the person concerned. The information should be adequate, provided in a comprehensible form and should include modalities for withdrawal of consent. Consent may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without any disadvantage or prejudice.”

Mass vaccination of billions of people around the world has been carried out with minimal informed consent and significant coercion over the last 15 months with a medical intervention that is still in phase III clinical trials that do not end until December 2023.

Patients around the United States awaiting life-saving organ transplantation have been removed from transplant lists and/or denied organ transplantation surgery solely on the basis of either their own or their donor’s COVID-19 vaccination status despite the fact that all the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use in the United States are still being used under emergency use authorization while the only FDA approved Comirnaty vaccine from Pfizer in not available in America.

In Cleveland, Ohio, a 7 year-old boy was denied a kidney transplant; his donor father is unvaccinated. A Fort Worth, Texas hospital denied a high school teenager a kidney transplant; he chose not to take one of the experimental emergency-use COVID vaccines. In Boston, Massachusetts, a 31-year-old father of two was denied a heart transplant; he is unvaccinated. A 38-year-old U.S. veteran from North Carolina with chronic renal failure who survived SARS-Cov-2 infection was refused a kidney transplant; he refused the vaccine due to his naturally acquired immunity. A 42-year-old Virginia man with end stage kidney failure was removed from the transplant list; he is unvaccinated.

Although many transplant centers may require certain vaccinations before performing transplant surgery, this applies to fully FDA approved vaccines and not to experimental use authorized medical treatments that have no long-term safety data. The Right to Try policy could be applied to patients awaiting transplant who choose not to have the COVID-19 injections. A study comparing the long-term survival of vaccinated and unvaccinated transplant patients may provide useful data.

Article 3. of the Universal Declaration states:

“1. Human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms are to be fully respected.
2. The interests and welfare of the individual should have priority over the sole interest of science or society.”

Are the health policy makers in transplant medicine respecting fundamental individual freedoms to bodily autonomy? What interests are being placed above the welfare and lives of individual patients?

In response, U.S. Congressman Ben Cline from Virginia has introduced H.R. 6534 Stop Arduous Vaccine Enforcement Act (SAVE) of 2022 “To amend the Public Health Service Act to prohibit transplant centers from discriminating against an individual seeking an organ on the basis of whether the individual is vaccinated against COVID–19, and for other purposes.”

Rep. Cline told Fox News that it is “unimaginable” that people are being refused organ transplants over their “personal choice to get vaccinated.” The bill, introduced on February 1, 2022, currently has the support of 39 representatives from 24 states.

If passed, H.R. 6534 will add the following amendment: “prohibit a transplant center from treating an individual as ineligible to donate or receive an organ, assigns a lower priority to an individual to receive an organ, or otherwise discriminates against an individual seeking to donate or receive an organ, on the basis of whether the individual is vaccinated (partially or fully) against COVID–19.”

The medical profession is at an ethical crossroad. This article does not intend to provide definitive answers, but suggests that the medical profession needs to openly confront and discuss potentially inconvenient ethical issues. Health policy makers and physicians should take a moment to question the prevailing dogma and examine the evidence in order to determine whether or not their actions comply with universally accepted ethical standards by which the profession earns and maintains its mandate to serve humanity.