The failure to give: reducing barriers to organ donation

Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 2001 Mar;11(1):1-16. doi: 10.1353/ken.2001.0001.


Moral frameworks for evaluating non-donation strategies to increase the supply of cadaveric human organs for transplantation and ways to overcome barriers to organ donation are explored. Organ transplantation is a very complex area, because the human body evokes various beliefs, symbols, sentiments, and emotions as well as various rituals and social practices. From a rationalistic standpoint, some policies to increase the supply of a transplantable organs may appear to be quite defensible but then turn out to be ineffective and perhaps even counterproductive because of inadequate attention to these rich and complex features of human body parts. Excessively rationalistic policies neglect deep beliefs, symbols, sentiments, and emotions and the like, and that deficiency marks many actual and proposed policies. In addition, policies are often too individualistic and too legalistic.

MeSH terms

  • Altruism
  • Beneficence*
  • Cadaver
  • Decision Making
  • Ethical Analysis*
  • Family
  • Human Body
  • Humans
  • Moral Obligations*
  • Motivation*
  • Organ Transplantation
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Public Opinion
  • Public Policy*
  • Resource Allocation
  • Risk Assessment
  • Social Responsibility*
  • Third-Party Consent
  • Tissue Donors / psychology*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement
  • Trust
  • United States