11 episodes

Life-and-death dilemmas. New medical technologies. Controversial treatments. In playing god? we hear from the patients whose lives were transformed—and sometimes saved—by medical innovations and the bioethicists who help guide complex decisions.

Ventilators can keep critically ill people alive, but when is it acceptable to turn the machines off? Organ transplants save lives but when demand outpaces supply how do we decide who gets them? Increasingly, novel reproductive technologies can help people have babies in ways that are far beyond what nature allows. So, when should such “Brave New World” technologies be introduced and who should control them? 

playing god? is hosted by Lauren Arora Hutchinson, Director of the iDeas Lab at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. 

playing god? is a co-production of Pushkin Industries and the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University, with generous support from The Greenwall Foundation. New episodes drop every Tuesday.

The Berman Institute has created a guide for each episode where you can learn more about the guests, the history, and the ethics issues at: bioethics.jhu.edu/playing-god

playing god‪?‬ Pushkin Industries

    • Science
    • 4.9 • 53 Ratings

Life-and-death dilemmas. New medical technologies. Controversial treatments. In playing god? we hear from the patients whose lives were transformed—and sometimes saved—by medical innovations and the bioethicists who help guide complex decisions.

Ventilators can keep critically ill people alive, but when is it acceptable to turn the machines off? Organ transplants save lives but when demand outpaces supply how do we decide who gets them? Increasingly, novel reproductive technologies can help people have babies in ways that are far beyond what nature allows. So, when should such “Brave New World” technologies be introduced and who should control them? 

playing god? is hosted by Lauren Arora Hutchinson, Director of the iDeas Lab at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. 

playing god? is a co-production of Pushkin Industries and the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University, with generous support from The Greenwall Foundation. New episodes drop every Tuesday.

The Berman Institute has created a guide for each episode where you can learn more about the guests, the history, and the ethics issues at: bioethics.jhu.edu/playing-god

    I Would’ve Let You Die, Too

    I Would’ve Let You Die, Too

    While Andrea Rubin lay unconscious and severely burned after a car fire, her father told doctors to do everything they could to keep her alive. She would need many surgeries. Her quality of life wouldn’t be the same. Her friends were outraged. They told doctors that Andrea would not want to live that way. While Andrea was being kept alive on a ventilator, her loved ones fought about what would be best for her. In this episode, we explore how medical decisions are made for patients who are incapable of deciding for themselves.


    Show notes:In addition to Andrea Rubin, this episode features interviews with:

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

    Monica Gerrek, Co-director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at MetroHealth System (where Andrea was treated)

    You can learn more about Andrea’s case here. 

    A similar case to Andrea’s happened in the 1970s. A man named Dax Cowart repeatedly asked doctors to let him die after suffering severe burns. But the doctors continued to treat him against his wishes. Here’s an interview with Mr. Cowart ten years after his accident, where he talks about his experience with the Washington Post. Dr. Gerrek wrote a paper comparing the two cases, and showing how medical decision making for severe burn patients has evolved over the past 50 years. 

    For further reading about medical decision making and patient autonomy, 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 greenwall.org.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 28 min
    The Girl Who Died Twice

    The Girl Who Died Twice

    When a 13 year-old girl from Oakland named Jahi McMath was pronounced brain dead after a surgical complication in 2013, California issued her a death certificate. Five years later, she received a second death certificate in New Jersey. How could one person die twice? In this episode, we learn that the line between life and death isn’t always as clear as you might think. 


    Show notes:This episode features interviews with:

    Yolonda Wilson, Associate Professor at the Albert Gnaegi Center for Health Care Ethics at Saint Louis University

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

    Bob Truog, who is the Frances Glessner Lee Distinguished Professor of Medical Ethics, Anaesthesia, and Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital.

    This episode references a New Yorker article about Jahi’s case, which you can read here. It also references the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA), which you can read here. 

    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 healthcare, policy and research. Learn more at greenwall.org. 
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 34 min
    Need a new Liver? Drinkers to the back of the Line.

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

    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 greenwall.org.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 29 min
    Why Can’t I Buy a Kidney?

    Why Can’t I Buy a Kidney?

    It can take years to get to the top of the waiting list for a donated kidney in the U.S. So when Sally Satel found out she’d need a kidney transplant, she wondered why she couldn’t just buy one. We’ll hear from a behavioral economist and a bioethicist who shed light on the ban on organ sales and whether it’s possible to create an ethical compensation program for organs.


    Show notes:In addition to Sally Satel, this episode features interviews with: 

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

    Mario Macis, Professor of Economic, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

    This episode references the National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA), passed in 1984. This act established the national Organ Procurement & Transplantation Network (OPTN), which is operated by an outside contractor, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

    The OPTN has its own ethics committee that has written guiding principles that influence how organs are allocated in the US. You can read this guidance here. 

    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 greenwall.org.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 24 min
    A Womb of One’s Own?

    A Womb of One’s Own?

    Jen Dingle yearned to get pregnant and have children, but there was one problem: she was born without a uterus. So when she was ready to have children she was desperate to find a way to do it. That’s when she learned that a local research hospital was starting up a uterus transplant program – one of the first in the U.S. Jen shares her personal experience and we explore the risks, financial costs and ethical issues of this new combination of organ transplant and reproductive technology.  


    Show Notes:

    In addition to Jen Dingle, this episode features interviews with: 

    Ruth Farrell, Vice Chair of Research of the OB/GYN and Women’s Health Institute, and Professor at the Center for Bioethics at the Cleveland Clinic

    Liza Johanneson, Medical Director of Uterus Transplant, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center

    You can learn more about the uterus transplant program at Baylor here. Dr. Farrell co-authored this article reviewing the state of uterus transplantation as of 2021. 

    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 greenwall.org.

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions of those interviewed for this episode are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities they represent.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 34 min
    Creating One Life to Save Another

    Creating One Life to Save Another

    When Laurie Strongin’s son Henry was born with the rare, often fatal disease of Fanconi anemia, doctors told her that the best way to save his life was with an umbilical cord blood transplant from a genetically matched sibling. But Henry had no matching siblings. Laurie and her husband then got a call from a doctor with a novel idea of combining three technologies to create a child who was guaranteed to be a genetic match, raising the question: is it ethical to create a life in order to save another?


    Show Notes:

    In addition to Laurie Strongin, this episode features interviews with:

    John Wagner, Co-Leader of the Transplantation and Cellular Therapy Program, Professor in the Division of Transplant and Cell Therapy in the Department of Pediatrics, and the McKnight-Presidential Endowed Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation & Cellular Therapy, University of Minnesota

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

    You can learn more about Fanconi anemia, learn about the latest research, and find resources for those affected by the disease here. You can read more about the Strongin-Goldbergs’ and the Nashes’ stories in this New York Times article from 2001. 

    Laurie Strongin went on to found the Hope for Henry Foundation, which works with hospitals to help provide support and better care for pediatric patients.

    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 greenwall.org.

     
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
53 Ratings

53 Ratings

mop420 ,

WE NEED MORE OF THIS

This podcast explains some of the biggest questions facing our species in a way that is fascinating and accessible. People need to know about this!!!

❤️🧡💛💚💙💜💕💗💖💝💞 ,

Pretty good

It’s better than I expected actually good job keep it up and ur voice tho!Ur voice is so gorgeous!

LemmyCautionMac ,

Terrific Podcast

This podcast is first rate, and the stakes of what it discusses are very high. This is a must listen. The host is great - brings these complex stories to life in an entertaining way.

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