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Cleveland Clinic Creates Transplant Ethics Fellowship

Fellowship Seeks to Expand Expertise and Development of Ethical Guidelines for Transplantation as Demand for Organs Grows

November 7, 2013

Cleveland Clinic has created its first fellowship focused on developing physician expertise on the complicated ethical issues involved in organ transplantation.

“Organ shortages, allocation issues and informed consent policies for living donors are among the many ethical issues that confront the transplant field,” said Eric Kodish, MD, Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Ethics, Humanities and Spiritual Care. “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.”

The fellowship was created with a donation from former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin, and his wife, Judith. The program director is Kathryn Weise, MD, who also directs the Cleveland Fellowship in Advanced Bioethics. The steering committee includes David Goldfarb, MD, Director of the Renal Transplant Program; Charles Miller, MD, Director of the Liver Transplant Program; and Martin Smith, STD, Director of Clinical Ethics.

David Shafran, MD, is the first fellow in the program. Dr. 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 Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.

Dr. Shafran and Dr. Weise 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. Once adequately established, the curriculum and program in general could potentially serve as a model for similar projects at other healthcare institutions.

“The goal and challenge in bioethics is to keep the conversation about the emerging issues on pace with rapid advances in medical technology,” said Dr. Shafran. “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.”

More than 120,000 people currently 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.

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