Loading
Reconsideration of ‘brain death’ criteria could affect ethics of organ donation
Reconsideration of ‘brain death’ criteria could affect ethics of organ donation
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- An article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), questioning the criteria of “brain death” and “cardiac death” especially in relation to organ donation, could affect the validity of ethical arguments approving the practice of organ donation at a person’s apparent death.

The NEJM article’s authors, Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Robert D. Truog and National Institutes of Health bioethics department faculty member Dr. Franklin G. Miller, argue that “as an ethical requirement for organ donation, the dead donor rule has required unnecessary and unsupportable revisions of the definition of death,” LifeSiteNews.com reports.

Saying that the scientific literature does not support the criteria which consider “brain death” and “cardiac death” to be actual death, the authors argue that the donation of vital organs taken from living human beings should not be considered unethical.

“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,” they write.

Drs. Troug and Miller suggest that ethical requirements of organ donation should not insist on dead donors but should consider organ donation “in terms of valid informed consent under the limited conditions of devastating neurologic injury.”

Unlike Troug and Miller, most moral ethicists consider the death of the donor as the event making it ethical to remove vital organs for transplant. They argue that removing vital organs from a living donor would constitute actively killing a person.

This is the generally accepted Catholic view.

In an August 29, 2000 address to the 18th International Congress of the Transplantation Society, Pope John Paul II emphasized that unpaired vital organs can be removed only after death, “from the body of someone who is certainly dead.”

Troug and Miller’s doubts about the ethical criteria used to justify organ donation have prompted some critics of organ donation to call for the cessation of the practice in Catholic hospitals.

“The setting out of these facts should by all rights lead to a cessation of complete removal of any vital organ at Catholic hospitals," said Dr. John Shea, a medical consultant to LifeSiteNews.com.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
Oct
25

Liturgical Calendar

October 25, 2014

Saturday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 13:1-9

Gospel
Date
10/25/14
10/24/14
10/23/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Eph 4: 7-16
Gospel:: Lk 13: 1-9

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
10/25/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 13:1-9

Homily
Date
10/25/14
10/24/14
10/23/14