Students Decide Whether Professor Should Donate Kidney

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To donate or not to donate, that is the question, students.

For many, the question of whether to donate a kidney is an ethical dilemma. But for students in Professor Michael Taber’s Altruism and Egoism class at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, it was more than a dilemma — it was part of their final grade.

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To help his students apply what they learned in his course to a real-life issue, Taber posed a question to the class: Since only one kidney is required to survive, is it selfish to hang on to both? And further, is it immoral not to donate?

But unlike most college discussion topics, the question was not hypothetical. While Taber reserved the right to not take his students’ recommendation, he was actually considering donating a kidney and wanted his students to help him decide.

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In the end, Taber’s students decided he can keep his kidney. “It was very clear that they believed that this would be a very good thing to do; an excellent thing to do, going above and beyond in all the usual sorts of ways we would talk about such charitable actions,” Taber told NPR. “But they felt uneasy making that recommendation to somebody they knew — namely, me.”

Students received an A on the assignment, which will go toward 5% of their final grade in the course. Taber says he may weigh donating his kidney again in a few years. (via NPR)