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Book and Media Reviews
December 14, 2011

Organ Shortage: Ethics, Law and Pragmatism

JAMA. 2011;306(22):2512. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1813

The ethicolegal literature has often focused on organ donation. Recently, in the United Kingdom, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics published its report, Human Bodies: Donation for Medicine and Research. That publication is a reminder that organ donation is a morally complex and contested subject. Questions of justice are invoked in analyses of systems for procuring donors. The principle of autonomy is framed and reframed in debates about consent and the involvement of third parties in decision-making about donation. The concept of altruism is explored in the unique context of persons who choose to become organ donors and the question of incentives. Yet the ethicolegal field has perhaps been less effective when considering the practical implications of moral analyses and the clinical limitations to that which may be ethically desirable.