JCCC Honors Journal


Medical professionals are presented with numerous ethical questions that need answering on an almost daily basis. In this paper, the story of Baby Fae is used as a vehicle to discuss ethical issues. This case highlights the core ethical question regarding the taking of an innocent animal’s life to attempt to save the life of an innocent human. It has been more than twenty-six years since Baby Fae lived and died with a baboon heart keeping her blood flowing and her body alive. Presented in this paper are the facts, simply stated, regarding an historical event that had a profound effect upon medical history. Nurses played a role in it that other nurses can emulate: working professionally in the face of great opposition, retaining patient privacy rights, realizing that we cannot always have a vote about which side of a case we would like to be on, and functioning non-judgmentally as a patient advocate. It can be easy to laud or criticize an historical event; but, we do not live in history – we only hope to learn from it.