J Korean Med Assoc.  2001 Nov;44(11):1160-1170. 10.5124/jkma.2001.44.11.1160.

Ethical Issues Related to Tissue Banking


Organ transplantations have become popular procedures for diseases in modern medical field with developing medical science. There have been so many hot discussions about ethical issues of organ transplantation, especially brain death, whenever medical ethics was addressed. However, we have not so far discussed ethical issues related to tissue banking, even though the history of tissue banking in medicine is longer than that of organ transplantation and the range of use of Human-based tissues is wider than that of organ transplantation. Tissue banking has medically and ethically similar aspects with organ transplantation, but tissue banking system has unique characteristics in total process. Ethical questions related to tissue banking involve informed consent, conflicts of interest, and the equitable distribution of human-based tissues and related profit issues. Families expect that their beloved ones' tissue will be used to improve the lives of people with medical needs, either through transplantation or medical research. However, concerns have been raised that some tissue might be used for purpose other than those intended by the donor. Donors may intend or believe that donated skin shall be used for the treatment of burn victims. However, in some cases it might be used for elective cosmetic surgery. It is not clear how much human-based tissues are currently used for cosmetic purposes, but there is always a potential commercial application of human-based tissues. The question is whether this is morally acceptable. We should always honor and treat with respect to the donors' wishes, and distribute the human-based tissues maximizing its usefulness and minimizing its hazards and waste the tissue.


Tissue bank; Human-based tissue transplantation; Organ transplantation; Medical ethics
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