Live Donor Transplantation -- the Incompetent Donor: Comparative Law
Medicine and Law: The World Association for Medical Law 2008 December; 27(4): 859-898
Informed consent of the patient to medical treatment is an essential prerequisite for any invasive medical procedure. However in emergency cases, when the patient is unable to sign a consent form due to unconsciousness or to psychotic state, than the primary medical consideration shall take place. In such a case, in order to save life or even prevent a major medical hazard to the patient, doctors are allowed, in certain cases and in accordance with well accepted medical practice, to perform invasive procedures, major surgery or risky pharmacological treatment, without the explicit consent of the patient. All the above refers to the cases when avoidance of such non-consented treatment may harm severely the health and wellbeing of the patient and there is no doubt that such treatment is for the ultimate benefit of the patient. The question, however, shall arise when such a medical procedure is not necessarily for the benefit of the patient, but rather for the benefit of somebody else. Such is the case in the transplantation area and the question of living donor-donee relationship. This paper shall analyze the legal situation in cases of non competent donors whose consent cannot be considered legal consent given in full understanding and out of free will. It will also compare three legal systems, the Israeli, the American and the traditional Jewish law, with regard to the different approaches to this human problem, where the autonomy of the donor may be sacrificed for the purpose of saving life of another person.
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