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Logo of jmedethJournal of Medical EthicsVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
J Med Ethics. Jun 2003; 29(3): 153–156.
PMCID: PMC1733733

Do the sick have a right to cadaveric organs?


One way of increasing the supply of organs for transplantation is to adopt a policy giving the sick a right to cadaveric organs. Such a right would entail the coercive transfer of organs from the dead without their previous consent. Because this policy would violate individual autonomy and the special relation between humans and their bodies, it would be morally unjustifiable. Although a rights-based non-consensual model of salvaging cadaveric organs would be medically desirable, a communitarian-based consensual model would be a morally justifiable alternative way of addressing the problem of organ scarcity.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Dukeminier J, Jr, Sanders D. Organ transplantation: a proposal for routine salvaging of cadaver organs. N Engl J Med. 1968 Aug 22;279(8):413–419. [PubMed]
  • Arnold RM, Youngner SJ. The dead donor rule: should we stretch it, bend it, or abandon it? Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 1993 Jun;3(2):263–278. [PubMed]
  • Robertson JA. The dead donor rule. Hastings Cent Rep. 1999 Nov-Dec;29(6):6–14. [PubMed]

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