Conscription of Cadaveric Organs for Transplantation: Neglected Again
Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 2003 June; 13(2): 169-174
The March 2003 issue of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal was devoted to cadaveric organ procurement. All the discussed proposals for solving the severe organ shortage place a higher value on respecting individual and/or family autonomy than on maximizing recovery of organs. Because of this emphasis on autonomy and historically high refusal rates, I believe that none of the proposals is likely to achieve the goals of ensuring an adequate supply of transplantable organs. An alternative approach, conscription of cadaveric organs for transplantation, reverses the rank order of these priorities by placing greater value on maximizing recovery of organs than on respect for autonomy. Although conscription of organs initially may appear to be a radical and even ridiculous proposal, careful consideration reveals that it might well solve the organ shortage in an ethically acceptable way.
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