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May 24, 1995

The Use of Anencephalic Neonates as Organ Donors

Author Affiliations

Durham, NC; Glendale, Calif; Gallipolis, Ohio; Buffalo, NY; Drew Fuller, Gainesville, Fla; Los Angeles, Calif; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Tex; Culver, Ind; Chicago, Ill; Somerville, Mass; New Haven, Conn; Chicago, Ill
From the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, American Medical Association, Chicago, Ill.

JAMA. 1995;273(20):1614-1618. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520440068039

HUNDREDS of children die each year of cardiac, hepatic, or renal failure because there are not enough hearts, livers, or kidneys available for transplantation from other children. Consequently, various measures have been considered over the years to increase the organ supply for pediatric transplantation. One approach that has received particular attention is the possibility of using organs from anencephalic neonates.1-3 Because anencephalic neonates face a certain and generally imminent death and because they lack any degree of consciousness, many commentators have proposed that organs of anencephalic neonates be used for transplantation, and many parents of such neonates request that their child's organs be given to other children. Permitting such organ donation would allow some good to come from a truly tragic situation, sustaining the lives of other children and providing psychological relief for those parents who wish to give meaning to the short life of the anencephalic neonate. Indeed,

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