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Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 41, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2021

Daniel J. Daly
Pages 149-167

How Many Heart Valves Should One Person Receive?
The Ethics of Multiple Valve Transplants for Patients with IVDU-Induced Endocarditis

This article argues that Catholic health care facilities should resist the emerging consensus in clinical ethics, which contends that patients suffering from intravenous drug use induced endocarditis should be denied multiple heart valve replacements. The article demonstrates that the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as well as core concepts in the Christian moral tradition, such as human dignity, the preferential option for the poor, and the common good, reject this emerging consensus. Patients suffering from endocarditis who inject drugs should, in principle, be eligible for second, third, and even fourth valve replacements. While hospitals may protect and promote the common good by limiting access to multiple heart valve surgeries for this patient population, these limitations should emerge from evidence that such surgeries harm the common good of access to primary health care for all members of a community.

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