July 1992

Ethical Considerations in Living Organ Donation and a New ApproachAn Advance-Directive Organ Registry

Author Affiliations

From the Centre for Bioethics and the Departments of Psychiatry, University of Toronto (Ontario) (Drs Kleinman and Lowy), Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto (Dr Kleinman), and The Toronto Hospital (Dr Lowy).

Arch Intern Med. 1992;152(7):1484-1488. doi:10.1001/archinte.1992.00400190104020

Living organ donation should be recognized as an ethical compromise to the principle of nonmaleficence (doing no harm), given the risks healthy donors are allowed to assume. Living organ donation should be reserved for situations in which there is no acceptable alternative. Increasing the availability of cadaveric organs is most desirable, since it would decrease (although probably not eliminate) the need for living organ transplantation and would provide organs (ie, hearts) that could not otherwise be obtained. We propose the development of an incentive-based Advance-Directive Organ Registry, in which all adults are encouraged to register their advance directive regarding organ donations. Those individuals agreeing to permit usable organs to be taken at the time of death would receive priority for organs generated by the program, should a transplant become necessary when there is a shortage of organs. The proposed Advance-Directive Organ Registry is firmly founded on the principles of autonomy, beneficence, and justice.

(Arch Intern Med. 1992;152:1484-1488)