October 7, 1968

Medical Responsibility for the Prolongation of Life

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston.

JAMA. 1968;206(2):384-386. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03150020100048

It is certainly appropriate to discuss transplantation in this seminar, not only because it may prolong the life of somebody who is crtitically ill but also because it requires a specific decision in many cases as to precisely when death has occurred; or, speaking in modern terms, when it is no longer to the good of society or the individual to prolong outward semblances of life in a body that lives while the brain is dead.

I  The various aspects bearing on the ethics of transplantation are to be analyzed under two headings: the ethics of the trial of new operations, and the ethical considerations involved with the donor.Although neither is in any sense new, the interpretation of cardiac transplantation in the light of these two problems has brought a new set of ideas and perplexities to the general public. A surprising number of eminent people, who appear to