Against abandoning the dead donor rule: reply to Smith

J Med Ethics. 2023 Oct;49(10):715-716. doi: 10.1136/jme-2022-108701. Epub 2022 Nov 25.


Smith argues that death caused by transplant surgery will not harm permanently unconscious patients, because they will not suffer a setback to their interests in the context of donation. Therefore, so the argument goes, the dead donor rule can be abandoned, because requiring a death declaration before procurement does not protect any relevant interest from being thwarted. Smith contends that a virtue of his argument is that it avoids the controversies over defining and determining death. I argue that it does not and explain why no change in policy is justified.

Keywords: Death; Ethics; Euthanasia; Transplantation.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Brain Death
  • Death*
  • Humans
  • Tissue Donors
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement*