News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Ethical dilemmas ahead as face transplants ahead

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Major ethical dilemmas ahead as face transplants come to the fore
says University of Otago expert

Recent reports of doctors attempting a face transplant is questioning our core beliefs and begs the question: is a human face just tissue or a window to the soul? Asks Grant Gillett, Professor of Medical Ethics at the University of Otago’s Medical School.

“If a living person has a severely disfigured face, is it not right that they be given the opportunity to receive a face transplant, which is simply the transfer of a piece of tissue? However, in contrast to this view, Aristotelian philosophy teaches us that an individual’s body and its functions are essential to that person’s humanity and individuality.”

Professor Gillett says while society is getting used to heart, kidney and even limb transplants, a human face is another matter.

“There is evidence, albeit anecdotal, that people who have received transplanted organs have taken on traits of the donors. In the case of the face, it may be possible that facial characteristics and expressions may be transplanted as well, even though the donor face would be placed on a different bone structure,” says the University of Otago expert.

The neurosurgeon says society isn’t fully aware yet of how we respond to facial expressions and characteristics, whether they be perfectly sculpted noses or so-called imperfections like wrinkles in conveying the humanity of an individual. These are issues that go beyond conventional notions of physical appearance, and nor are they easily quantifiable.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Electronica: Restoring The World’s First Recorded Computer Music

University of Canterbury Distinguished Professor Jack Copeland and UC alumni and composer Jason Long have restored the earliest known recording of computer-generated music, created more than 65 years ago using programming techniques devised by Alan Turing. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Almost Getting Away With Murder

The Black Widow by Lee-Anne Cartier: Lee-Anne Cartier is the sister of the Christchurch man found to have been murdered by his wife, Helen Milner, after an initial assumption by police that his death, in 2009, was suicide. More>>

Howard Davis: Triple Echo - The Malevich/Reinhardt/Hotere Nexus

Howard Davis: The current juxtaposition of works by Ralph Hotere and Ad Reinhardt at Te Papa perfectly exemplifies Jean Michel Massing's preoccupation with the transmigration of imagery in a remarkable triple echo effect... More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Nō Tāu Manawa

Vaughan Rapatahana responds to Fale Aitu | Spirit House by Tusiata Avi: "fa’afetai Tusiata, fa’afetai, / you’ve swerved & served us a masterclass corpus / through graft / of tears & fears..." More>>

9 Golds - 21 Medals: NZ Team Celebrates As Rio 2016 Paralympic Games Close

The entire New Zealand Paralympic Team, led by kiwi sprinter and double gold medallist Liam Malone as flag bearer, are on the bus to the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro for the Closing Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. There, they will celebrate the fantastic successes of the past 10 days. More>>


New Zealand Improv Festival: The Festival Of Moments To Return To The Capital

The eighth incarnation of the New Zealand Improv Festival comes to BATS Theatre this 4-8 October , with a stellar line-up of spontaneous theatre and instant comedy performed and directed by top improvisors from around New Zealand and the world. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news