John Lizza
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
Critics of organ donation after circulatory death argue that, even if donors are past the point of autoresuscitation, they have not satisfied the “irreversibility” requirement in the circulatory and respiratory criteria for determining death, since their circulation and respiration could be artificially restored. Thus, removing their vital organs violates the “dead-donor” rule. I defend DCD donation against this criticism. I argue that practical medical-ethical considerations, including respect for do-not-resuscitate orders, support interpreting “irreversibility” to mean permanent cessation of circulation and respiration. Assuming a consciousness-related formulation of human death, I then argue that the loss of circulation and respiration is significant, because it leads to the permanent loss of consciousness and thus to the death of the human person. The DNR request by an organ donor should thus be interpreted to mean “do not restore to consciousness.” Finally, I respond to an objection that if “irreversibility” has a medical-ethical meaning, it would entail the absurd possibility that one of two individuals in the same physical state could be alive and the other dead—an implication that some think is inconsistent with understanding death as an objective biological state of the organism. I argue that advances in medical technology have created phenomena that challenge the assumption that human death can be understood in strictly biological terms. I argue that ethical and ontological considerations about our nature bear on the definition and determination of death and thus on the permissibility of DCD.
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DOI 10.1093/jmp/jhz030
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References found in this work BETA

Defining Death.William Charlton - forthcoming - Wiley: New Blackfriars.
Are DCD Donors Dead?Don Marquis - 2010 - Hastings Center Report 40 (3):24-31.
The Dead Donor Rule: Can It Withstand Critical Scrutiny?F. G. Miller, R. D. Truog & D. W. Brock - 2010 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 35 (3):299-312.
The Dead Donor Rule.John A. Robertson - 1999 - Hastings Center Report 29 (6):6.

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Citations of this work BETA

Conceptual Clarity in Clinical Bioethical Analysis.J. Clint Parker - 2020 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 45 (1):1-15.

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Potentiality, Irreversibility, and Death.John P. Lizza - 2005 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 30 (1):45 – 64.
The Dead Donor Rule: Can It Withstand Critical Scrutiny?F. G. Miller, R. D. Truog & D. W. Brock - 2010 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 35 (3):299-312.


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