Biomedical Ethics Seminar Series: Special Event 

You can also view Past Biomedical Ethics Seminar Series.

The UCSD Biomedical Ethics Seminar Series meets once monthly for faculty, staff, and students to discuss selected ethics topics.

This series is co-sponsored by the UCSD Institute for Practical Ethics. 

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For more information, contact Mary Devereaux at


October 20, 2021


On September 28, 2018 Martha Gershun donated a kidney at the Mayo Clinic to a woman she read about in the newspaper.  Gershun, an accomplished nonprofit executive and graduate of the Harvard Business School, was astounded at the many obstacles she encountered in her attempt to offer this altruistic gift.

Gershun turned to her friend and colleague Dr. John Lantos, a pediatrician and bioethicist, to better understand how the history of kidney transplantation and the ethical controversies that surround living donors led to these barriers.  Together, they wrote Kidney to Share (Cornell University Press, May 2021) to help readers understand both the scientific discoveries that made transplantation relatively safe and effective and the barriers that make it difficult and expensive to donate a kidney.  They show how these barriers may discourage donors and exacerbate racial and economic health disparities.

In this talk Gershun will discuss her decision to donate a kidney to a stranger and the long, complicated process that finally led to a successful surgery nine months later.  Lantos will use her story to illustrate the ethical issues that arise in recovering and allocating organs from both living and deceased donors. They will suggest ways that the medical community could thoughtfully and safely reduce the burdens on living donors.  Doing so could shorten the waiting list for transplants and save lives. 


Martha Gershun, Nonprofit consultant, writer, and community volunteer.  Retired as Jackson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Executive Director. Living kidney donor.

John Lantos, MD, Director, Pediatric Bioethics; Glasnapp Foundation Endowed Chair in Bioethics


Wednesday, October 20, 2021; 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm (PST)

Location Virtual Zoom Event - Register below or E-mail for access
Zoom Link Emailed after registration.