Procuring organs from a non-heart-beating cadaver: commentary on a case report

Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 1995 Mar;5(1):35-42; discussion 43-9. doi: 10.1353/ken.0.0171.


Procurement of organs from non-heart-beating cadaver donors raises concerns. Standards for optimal patient care during withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy are evolving and continue to be debated and studied. Consensus on specific procedures and methods has not been attained, however, and protocols for the procurement of organs from patients following the withdrawal of life-sustaining therapies may compromise the evolving standards and harm the patient and the attendant family. In addition, there is little evidence to suggest that such protocols will significantly increase the number of organs procured. "Non-heart-beating cadaver" protocols that do not give comprehensive attention to optimal patient/family care at the time of withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy ought not to be endorsed.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Cadaver*
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac
  • Ethics, Institutional
  • Family
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Life Support Care / standards
  • Pennsylvania
  • Terminal Care / standards
  • Tissue Donors / supply & distribution*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / standards*
  • United States
  • Withholding Treatment*