Adolescents with suspected intentional overdose: Ethical considerations in determining liver transplant candidacy

Kelli N. Triplett, Gillian S. Mayersohn, William Pelley, Dev M. Desai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


As the suicide rate for early adolescents has doubled in the past decade, pediatric liver transplant centers may more frequently encounter patients who present with acute liver failure secondary to an intentional ingestion of substances. The purpose of this article is to explore the ethical issues surrounding the determination of liver transplant candidacy for pediatric patients with suspected intentional ingestion of substances. Two case examples of pediatric patients who were evaluated for liver transplant after a suspected intentional ingestion of substances are explored. Evaluations to determine transplant candidacy in cases where an overdose is suspected, but unable to be confirmed, are typically complicated by time constraints due to medical urgency and potential biases by members of multidisciplinary transplant team members. More rigorous examination of long-term outcomes in pediatric patients who are post-liver transplant secondary to ingestion of substances is warranted. Until more robust pediatric outcome data are available, clinicians should continue to carefully weigh the risks and benefits of transplant while being guided by ethical principles. Pediatric psychologists working with potential liver transplant patients play a key role in ensuring that ethical principles are considered as a guide to inform transplant listing decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)170-178
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • Adolescence
  • Ethics
  • Liver transplant
  • Multidisciplinary collaboration
  • Suicidality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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