Individual choice in the definition of death

Journal of Medical Ethics 33 (3):146-149 (2007)
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While there are numerous doubts, controversies and lack of consensus on alternative definitions of human death, it is argued that it is more ethical to allow people to choose either cessation of cardio-respiratory function or loss of entire brain function as the definition of death based on their own views. This paper presents the law of organ transplantation in Japan, which allows people to decide whether brain death can be used to determine their death in agreement with their family. Arguably, Japan could become a unique example of individual choice in the definition of death if the law is revised to allow individuals choose definition of death independently of their family. It suggests that such an approach is one of the reasonable policy options a country can adopt for legislation on issues related to the definition of death



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