Rule Change Stops Push to Harvest Organs of People Still Alive on Life Support

National   |   Wesley J. Smith   |   Nov 15, 2013   |   3:44PM   |   Washington, DC

I wrote back in April that a core ethical rule in organ transplant medicine was threatened with a dangerous turn that would allow doctors to bring up donation to the families of disabled patients before a decision to cease life support was made.

Thanks to the work of disability rights activists such as Not Dead Yet, that rule change has been turned back.

From the NDY announcement:

The disability rights group Not Dead Yet is claiming victory this week after meetings of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) Board of Directors, which adopted a policy that removed a significant threat to people with severe disabilities posed by previous proposals that would affect people who use ventilators to breathe, including people with severe spinal cord injuries and neuromuscular disabilities.



The policy prohibits organ procurement organizations from initiating any discussion with the legal next-of-kin about organ donation for a potential DCD donor until after the patient or legal next-of-kin has elected to withdraw life sustaining medical treatment.

Well done! Maintaining the ethics of organ transplant in the face of the organ shortage is a difficult, but essential task. Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney who blogs at Human Exeptionalism.