Re-use of this article is permitted in accordance with the Terms and Conditions set out at http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/onlineopen#OnlineOpen_Terms
SHOULD WE ALLOW ORGAN DONATION EUTHANASIA? ALTERNATIVES FOR MAXIMIZING THE NUMBER AND QUALITY OF ORGANS FOR TRANSPLANTATION
Article first published online: 3 MAY 2010
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Volume 26, Issue 1, pages 32–48, January 2012
How to Cite
WILKINSON, D. and SAVULESCU, J. (2012), SHOULD WE ALLOW ORGAN DONATION EUTHANASIA? ALTERNATIVES FOR MAXIMIZING THE NUMBER AND QUALITY OF ORGANS FOR TRANSPLANTATION. Bioethics, 26: 32–48. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2010.01811.x
- Issue published online: 14 DEC 2011
- Article first published online: 3 MAY 2010
- organ transplantation ethics;
- medical ethics;
- tissue and organ procurement/ethics;
- tissue donors/supply & distribution
There are not enough solid organs available to meet the needs of patients with organ failure. Thousands of patients every year die on the waiting lists for transplantation. Yet there is one currently available, underutilized, potential source of organs. Many patients die in intensive care following withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment whose organs could be used to save the lives of others. At present the majority of these organs go to waste.
In this paper we consider and evaluate a range of ways to improve the number and quality of organs available from this group of patients. Changes to consent arrangements (for example conscription of organs after death) or changes to organ donation practice could dramatically increase the numbers of organs available, though they would conflict with currently accepted norms governing transplantation.
We argue that one alternative, Organ Donation Euthanasia, would be a rational improvement over current practice regarding withdrawal of life support. It would give individuals the greatest chance of being able to help others with their organs after death. It would increase patient autonomy. It would reduce the chance of suffering during the dying process. We argue that patients should be given the choice of whether and how they would like to donate their organs in the event of withdrawal of life support in intensive care.
Continuing current transplantation practice comes at the cost of death and prolonged organ failure. We should seriously consider all of the alternatives.