Whole body gestational donation

Theor Med Bioeth. 2023 Apr;44(2):113-124. doi: 10.1007/s11017-022-09599-8.


Whole body gestational donation offers an alternative means of gestation for prospective parents who wish to have children but cannot, or prefer not to, gestate. It seems plausible that some people would be prepared to consider donating their whole bodies for gestational purposes just as some people donate parts of their bodies for organ donation. We already know that pregnancies can be successfully carried to term in brain-dead women. There is no obvious medical reason why initiating such pregnancies would not be possible. In this paper, I explore the ethics of whole-body gestational donation. I consider a number of potential counter-arguments, including the fact that such donations are not life-saving and that they may reify the female reproductive body. I suggest if we are happy to accept organ donation in general, the issues raised by whole-body gestational donation are differences of degree rather than substantive new concerns. In addition, I identify some intriguing possibilities, including the use of male bodies-perhaps thereby circumventing some potential feminist objections.

Keywords: Brain death; Morality; Organ donation; Pregnancy; Procreation; Reproduction; Surrogacy.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Death
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Organ Transplantation*
  • Parents
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement*