Make It Plain: Strengthening the Ethical Foundation of First-Person Authorization

for Organ Donation


James L. Benedict, The Journal of Clinical Ethics 28, no. 4 (Winter 2017): 303-7.


One response to the chronic shortage of organs for transplant in the United States has been the passage of laws establishing first-person authorization for donation of organs, providing legal grounds for the retrieval of organs and tissues from registered donors, even over the objections of their next of kin. The ethical justification for first-person authorization is that it is a matter of respecting the donorís wishes. The objection of some next of kin may be that the donor would not have wished for his or her loved ones to have their preferences overridden, had they considered that possibility. This article examines the basis of the conflict and suggests a remedy grounded in the provision of donor-intent options that have the ability to clarify the donorís wishes.




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