The story was about as life-and-death as it gets. Wilson's cancer patient from a few years ago, in long term remission, has become Wilson's friend. Of course, the friend will soon be afflicted by cancer again. Wilson at first denies this, going with a seemingly more reasonable diagnosis. House sees through this - it's cancer. Wilson tries a desperate treatment - he thinks it's House-like, though House objects - and it cures the new cancer but "trashes" the patient's liver, as House or Wilson puts it.
This leaves the patient less than a day of life, unless he gets a transplant, and is the set-up for the real and heart-wrenching story. Wilson with House's assistance comes close to getting a transplant for the patient, but fails. The only option left for Wilson is giving his patient a slice of Wilson's own liver. Not a necessarily dangerous operation, but all operations are dangerous, and doctors are not supposed to do this for their patients.
Wilson's decision, opposed by House, is consistent with his character. It shows Wilson more than ever as an anti-House, someone with a wellspring of compassion that House seems to lack. Yet House's position was not without compassion, either - in this case, for his only friend, Wilson.
Was that therefore selfish of House? In the end, all altruism has selfish motives. Even Wilson's generosity was driven in part by a need to ease his conscience.
Kudos to House for presenting such ethically complex, great television.
5-min podcast review of House
See also House Reborn in Season Six? ... 6.2: The Gang is Back and Fractured ... 6.3: The Saving Hitler Quandary ... 6.4: Diagnosis vs. Karma ... 6.5 Getting Better ... 6.6 House Around the Bases ... Four's a Crowd on House 6.7 ... House 6.8 and the Reverse of Flowers for Algernon
The Plot to Save Socrates
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