Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Organ Donor Dillemma

An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine has re-opened the debate about the ethics of organ donation. The article warns that organs can be - and are being - harvested from the bodies of patients who cannot be convincingly termed 'dead'. The authors do not oppose organ harvesting on these grounds, stating:
The uncomfortable conclusion to be drawn from this literature is that although it may be perfectly ethical to remove vital organs for transplantation from patients who satisfy the diagnostic criteria of brain death, the reason it is ethical cannot be that we are convinced they are really dead.

However, as SPUC points out, "the acknowledgement of the inadequacy of such criteria significantly undermines the ethics of organ donation."

The July/August 2008 edition of the Faith magazine contains a paper by Bernard Farrell-Roberts analysing the ethics of organ donation.