Posted by: Alexandre Borovik | December 28, 2016

Immorality of forcing choice on others

I very much hope that this story is a hoax, I tried to locate the source on the Internet, but failed.

If it is not a hoax, then it is a huge breach of profession norms- made in a hurry and under stress, but still a breach. One should not put children in the situation of choice almost impossible for them -teachers should remember that. Actually, it is not a good idea to force moral  choice on people. In most  cases, it is immoral to force moral choice on others.



  1. Snopes to the rescue:

  2. I’ve heard this fellow’s story somewhere before, and rather suspect that if it’s not a complete confabulation, then it describes a misconception that lots of very young brothers of young sisters fall into.

    If it were a true story, then it would be a breach of confidentiality only on naming the patient or the donor or a parent. It does seem weird for a hospital not to have O- on hand, but never mind that: the doctor in the story doesn’t even imagine until after the fact that he’s given the boy a life-or-death choice: but neither can he morally tap the child’s arteries without getting some consent from him. More: even understanding that a parent can and should provide *legal* consent, to think that the boy’s will is over-riden by parental consent is to misunderstand consent rather badly.

    But I agree that the tweet represents poor judgment: here is a surgeon, a University Graduate trained in sciences and all that, repeating an old sappy-if-sweet story — whose original purpose is to highlight how much a brother loves his sister and how innocent young children are — apparently hoping to shine in some reflected glory by casting himself as a secondary hero in the fable.

  3. I have seen a very similar story some years ago, I think in the context of a bone marrow donation.

    It seemed touching at the time but you’re right, it should have been made clear to the brother that he was in no danger, if this actually happened.

  4. This story has been passed around for generations. I first heard it in a sermon over 40 years ago. Maybe not a hoax, but probably not true.

  5. Similar anecdotes have been making the rounds for at least nine decades. A gender-reversed version appears in the 1993 book “Chicken Soup for the Soul” by Canfield & Hansen. The earliest version known to was in a 1925 Mary Pickford film, in which a 32 year old Pickford plays the (12 year old) girl. URL:

    (Of course this doesn’t guarantee that no such story is true. That said, it’s quite easy to see how a single such anecdote, true or not, could propagate and spawn a large number of variants over a long time period – it is that affecting and that memorable. I remember propagating it myself at a time when I no longer recalled its source, which I now realize was probably “Chicken Soup.”)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: