Mickey Mantle, Baseball Hall of Fame center fielder for the New York Yankees, received a liver transplant in 1995 after a six-hour operation. It took only two days for the Baylor Medical Center’s transplant team to find an organ donor for the 63-year-old baseball hero when his own liver was failing due to cirrhosis and hepatitis. Mantle was a recovering alcoholic who also had a small cancerous growth that was not believed to be spreading or life-threatening.

There is usually a waiting period of about 130 days for a liver transplant in the United States. A spokesperson for the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) located in Richmond, Virginia, stated that there had been no favoritism in this case. She based her statement on the results of an audit conducted after the transplant took place. However, veteran transplant professionals were surprised at how quickly the transplant liver became available. Doctors estimated that due to Mantle’s medical problems, he had only a 60 percent chance for a three-year survival. Ordinarily, liver transplant patients have about a 78 percent three-year survival rate. There are only about 4,000 livers available each year, with 40,000 people waiting for a transplant of this organ. According to the director of the Southwest Organ Bank, Mantle was moved ahead of the others on the list due to a deteriorating medical condition. The surgery was uneventful, and Mantle’s liver and kidneys began functioning almost immediately. His recovery from the surgery was fast.

  1. As in the case of the liver transplant for Mickey Mantle, should the system make allowances for “real heroes”? Why or why not?
  2. Some ethicists argue that patients with alcohol-related end-stage liver disease (ARESLD) should not be considered for a liver transplant due to the poor results and limited long-term survival. Others argue that since alcoholism is a disease, these patients should be considered for a transplant. What is your opinion, and why.