playing god? Need a new Liver? Drinkers to the back of the Line.

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One day, when she was only 39, bar manager Jamie Imhof collapsed. While she lay in a coma, doctors told her family that they knew how to save her life: she needed an immediate liver transplant. But, transplant centers follow an informal “rule” when it comes to patients whose livers fail due to heavy alcohol use. Jamie would not be eligible for a new liver for six months. For a case as severe as Jamie’s, waiting six months would be a death sentence. We hear about the “six month rule” for liver transplants and why one Johns Hopkins surgeon says it’s a practice based on stigma, not science. 

Show notes:
In addition to Jamie Imhof, this episode features interviews with:

Jeffrey Kahn, Andreas C. Dracopolous Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

Andrew Cameron, Surgeon-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where Jamie had her surgery

If you or your loved one is struggling with alcohol use, visit the SAMHSA website to find help or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The United Organ Transplant Service (UNOS) helps distribute organs for transplant across the country. You can read more about how livers are distributed at their website

To learn more about Andrew Cameron’s program that challenges the six month rule, read this article from Hopkins Medicine Magazine. 

To learn more about the ethics issues raised in this episode, visit the Berman Institute’s episode guide

The Greenwall Foundation seeks to make bioethics integral to decisions in health care, policy, and research. Learn more at

The Host

Lauren Arora Hutchinson, PhD, MPH

Lauren Arora Hutchinson, host of playing god?, joined the Berman Institute in June 2022 as the inaugural director of the Dracopoulos-Bloomberg iDeas Lab. She was previously a BBC journalist, award-winning audio storyteller,…