Contemporary Science Issues: Lessons for Key Stage 4
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Lesson 2:  Organ transplantation – the facts and dilemmas
Lesson plan
Making a life and death decision after looking at the history of human organ transplantation. Two critically ill patients await the outcome of hopefully an evidence based decision. There is no right answer.
Please read the lesson plan below, then read the teachers’ notes, followed by the resources page. You can navigate between the 3 pages for each lesson using the links at the top right of this page
Biology Lesson 2: Organ transplantation – the facts and dilemmas
Curriculum Key: Could link with homeostasis in all schemes; fulfils How Science Works
1. Understand that research and developments have enabled medical scientists to advance in their abilities to transplant organs
2. Make life & death decisions based on both scientific and social evidence.
3. Be able to explain the ethical dilemmas and protocols associated with human organ transplantations
Resources needed
Organ transplant key dates cards

Time sheet, PowerPoint, GP notes and personal background cards, hospital records, clinical director report proforma and ‘Medicine Today’ worksheet.
Starter: 10 minutes
Using the ‘organ transplant – key dates’ cards/info. Place them in chronological order. Students must look carefully at the clues that can be found within the detail to order the events
Teacher input/assessment
Organ rejection is key to the successes that follow. Note the complexity of the surgery as the research develops.
Main Activity 1: 20 minutes
Given 2 very seriously ill cardiac patients – make a life/death decision based on the evidence provided. Set the scene with a PowerPoint and then divide into groups to scrutinise the personal, GP related notes and cardiac team’s test analysis.
Teacher input / assessment
Show PowerPoint. Divide class into suitable groups. (see teacher notes). Hand out evidences for them to make an informed choice for the organ recipient.
Main Activity 2: 15 minutes (optional)
Card sort. Cards have quotes from various resources including scientific and medical journals and the popular press.

Students work in groups of up to four, reading and sorting into Scientific evidence for, Scientific evidence against and Non-scientific evidence.
Groups give three minute feedback on their findings to class
Teacher input / assessment
Each team must produce a report on how they came to their decision. Perhaps they could report back to the whole group.
Plenary: 15 minutes
Given a newspaper article students must answer the accompanying questions. This is a comprehension exercise focusing on ‘scientific evidence’, ‘ideas’, ‘ethical issues’ and ‘conjecture’
Teacher input / assessment
Students need to read the article carefully and answer the questions (either individually or in small groups).
Learning Outcomes:
All students must: complete a transplant time line, make a group decision and give a supporting reason for their choice based on the evidence provided.
Most students should: as above plus appreciate that there is more to organ transplanting than just who seems to be the most deserving recipient. Take an active part in the decision making and give suggestions for the outcome of the alternative choice.
Some students could: Lead their groups and link ethical dilemmas and medical facts. Make a decision and offer a rationale for the application of their ethical approach into making their moral decision.
Key Skills: Collecting evidence to make an informed decision. Role play. Communication and data presentation
Key words: Xenotransplant, organ rejection, ethics, cardiac disease
Homework: Write ‘Hospital front page news’ or finish newspaper article comprehension.
More able: Will lead/influence the decision making based on evidence and be able to communicate their decision with a coherent argument.
Less able: Will be party to the decisions/report.
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