Are the patients who become organ donors under the Pittsburgh protocol for "non-heart-beating donors" really dead?

Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 1993 Jun;3(2):167-78. doi: 10.1353/ken.0.0081.


The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) "Policy for the Management of Terminally Ill Patients Who May Become Organ Donors after Death" proposes to take organs from certain patients as soon as possible after expected cardiopulmonary death. This policy requires clear understanding of the descriptive state of the donor's critical cardiopulmonary and neurologic functional capacity at the time interventions to sustain or harvest organs are undertaken. It also requires strong consensus about the moral and legal status of the donor during dying and confirmation of death. There has been no need for the clarity and precision that this policy relies upon, and thus the needed research and conceptual work has not previously been generated. The empiric base and societal consensus are both too frail to provide justification for this policy at this time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Death*
  • Decision Making, Organizational
  • Ethics, Institutional*
  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Hospitals, University / standards
  • Human Body
  • Humans
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / organization & administration
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / standards*
  • United States
  • Withholding Treatment