A recent BBC article on the need to ration kidney dialysis machines in South Africa prompted an interesting article in the Global Bioethics Blog. One sentence in the article entitled “The God Committee, African style,” caught my eye:
For some, bioethics started in the United States with the so-called ‘Seattle God committee’, the body of health care professionals and laypersons that was formed to decide who among patients with kidney failure should receive (then new, and very scarce) dialysis treatment.
The reason this happened in Seattle was due to the development, by the UW’s Dr. Belding Scribner, of a new technology that made kidney dialysis feasible for preventing death by renal failure. This made Seattle the world center of dialysis, and also posed a problem because not everyone with renal failure could get dialysis. Continue reading