Adelphi’s Department of Philosophy invites you to a lecture by Alexander Zambrano on “Consent and Cadavers: The role of consent in organ procurement policy.” Zambrano is a doctoral candidate at the University of Colorado (Boulder) and a finalist for our Applied Ethics Position.
Is it morally obligatory to acquire a patient’s consent before posthumously removing her organs for transplantation? Call the affirmative answer to this question, the consent requirement. Biomedical consensus and standard medical practice requires that we obtain the informed consent of patients before performing invasive procedures on their bodies. The most widely cited justification for the consent requirement is that gaining a patient’s consent respects her autonomy. This requirement to gain consent is reflected in the official organ procurement policy of the United States, which states that a patient or her next of kin must give their explicit consent before the patient’s organs are removed for transplantation.
In this talk, I will argue that the current U.S. policy has it wrong in two important ways. First, I argue that obtaining a patient’s actual consent before her organs are removed is not necessary to respect her autonomy. Second, I argue that the kind of consent that is currently sought by organ procurement policy in the U.S. is not sufficient to respect patient autonomy. This implies that if the current policy of obtaining consent is to remain, it ought to be revised in a way that sufficiently respects patient autonomy.
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