Racially-conditional donation: The example of umbilical cord blood

23 June 2014

While direction of donated tissue to family members has long been accepted, direction to members of specific racial groups has been opposed, on the basis that it is discriminatory and contrary to the ethos the institution of organ donation seeks to promote. It has, however, recently been proposed that racially conditional donation may provide a useful--and ethically acceptable--way to address the social inequalities and injustices experienced by certain cultural groups. This article examines the ethical, legal and cultural arguments for and against racially conditional donation, concluding that the practice is more likely to undermine the values of equity and justice than to promote them and that it may also lead to other unfavourable personal and social outcomes.