The Case of Ms D: A Familyís Request for Posthumous Procurement of Ovaries


Laura Guidry-Grimes


The MedStar Washington Hospital Center clinical ethics team became involved in a case when the family requested the posthumous removal of a patientís ovaries for future reproductive use. This case presents a novel question for clinical ethicists, since the technology for posthumous female reproduction is still in development. In the bioethics literature, the standard position is to refuse to comply with such a request, unless there is explicit consent or evidence of explicit conversations that demonstrate the deceased would have wanted this option pursued. Ms Dís case, we suggest, offers an exception to this default position; complying with the familyís request could have been ethically permissible in this case, had it been medically feasible.



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