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J Med Ethics. 2003 Jun;29(3):153-6.

Do the sick have a right to cadaveric organs?

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  • 1Centre for Applied Ethics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z2.


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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