While Scribner’s shunt made long-term dialysis possible, the ‘miracle’ treatment immediately became an extremely scarce resource. Thousands of people had kidney disease, and only a few dialysis machines existed.
The hard truth was that not everyone who needed dialysis could get it. Who would get the lifesaving treatment? Who would live and who would die?
The community did its best in this dilemma when it established the Admissions and Policy Committee in 1961. Creating such a committee would surely raise a controversy today. In fact, many health historians believe the modern field of bioethics was born out of the moral and ethical dilemmas raised by this approach.
Listen to more about this group called ‘The God Committee’.
Reprint of Time magazine story from November 1962