Intended for healthcare professionals


Organ transplantation and discrimination

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 10 June 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1600

Treatment should be available to everyone

  1. Peter Byrne, consultant psychiatrist (
  1. Community Mental Health Team, Folkestone CT19 5HN
  2. Centre for Hepatology, Royal Free and University College Medical School, Royal Free Campus, London NW3 2PF

    EDITOR—In examining the selection process for organ transplantation, Masterston is correct in stating that doctors share the public's prejudice against people with mental illness.1 In a survey of American transplant centres, active schizophrenia was an “absolute contraindication” to transplantation in 92% of cardiac units, 67% of liver units, and 73% of renal units.2 Controlled schizophrenia was relatively contraindicated in 51%, 65%, and 62% respectively. During the first 11 years of a heart transplantation programme in Montreal, 226 transplants were completed and 28 people were denied the procedure on the basis of a psychiatric diagnosis.3 Seven of these 28 people had continuing alcohol or drug misuse, six had non-compliance with …

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