MBL Summer Falmouth Forum to Address Ethical Issues in Organ Donation and Transplantation

Contact: Susan Joslin
508-289-7281; sjoslin@mbl.edu

Ruth-Fischbach_webWOODS HOLE, MA—Dr. Ruth L. Fischbach, a professor of Bioethics and director and co-founder of the Center for Bioethics at Columbia University will raise current, contentious, and unresolved ethical and societal dilemmas surrounding organ donation and transplantation in a special MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) Falmouth Forum lecture titled “Ethical Issues in Organ Donation and Transplantation: Old and New Conundrums in Search for the Gift of Life.” The lecture will be held Monday, July 22 at 7:30 PM in the MBL’s Lillie Auditorium, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole. This annual bioethics lecture is sponsored by Dr. Fischbach and her husband, Dr. Gerald Fischbach.  It is free and open to the public.

Transplantation of vital organs offers the gift of life to patients experiencing terminal organ failure. Perhaps no other medical advance generates as many profound ethical dilemmas as we attempt to fix the mismatch between the desperate demand for donated organs and the acute shortage of organs that are available.  As more than 118,000 people languish and all too often die waiting for an available match, varied attempts are being made to obtain lifesaving organs.

In her talk, Dr. Ruth Fischbach will present the riveting case of 10 year-old Sarah Murnaghan whose parents, using the media and social pressure, involved the U.S. Congress, Secretary of Health and Human Services, a federal judge, and the organ procurement network before receiving not one but two double lung transplants. Her case underscores how organ donation rules are developed and how they may be disregarded.

Throughout her career, Dr. Fischbach has been committed to protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of patients and research participants. Prior to arriving at Columbia, Dr. Fischbach held positions at the National Institutes of Health, Harvard Medical School, and Washington University School of Medicine.

Dr. Fischbach attended Mount Holyoke College, received R.N. and B.S. degrees from Cornell University-New York Hospital School of Nursing, an M.S. and Ph.D. from Boston University, and an MPE from Washington University.  She recently completed a fellowship in neuroethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

For more information about this lecture or the Falmouth Forum lecture series, visit mbl.edu/falmouthforum or contact the MBL Communications Office at: (508) 289-7423; comm@mbl.edu.


The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in 1888 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the MBL is an independent, nonprofit corporation.

The MBL Associates are a group of individuals and businesses that support the scientific mission of the MBL through their gifts to the Annual Fund. The Associates sponsor educational and research programs for the MBL and raise funds for special projects. In addition, they operate the MBL Gift Shop, located on Water Street in Woods Hole, the profits from which support scientific fellowships.