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Transplantation Ethics
  1. J Hughes

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R M Veatch. Georgetown University Press, 2000, £46.75, pp 427. ISBN 0-87840-811-8

Transplantation Ethics is a book that will be welcomed by teachers and students of medical ethics as well as health care professionals and policy makers involved in transplantation issues. The book provides a broad overview of recent and contemporary debates relating to organ transplantation, while also defending particular methods of approaching the ethical questions and using them to argue for particular policy proposals. Most of the book’s chapters are based on previously published material, and while this leads to a certain amount of repetition, the overall result is coherent and highly readable.

The book is divided into three parts. The first addresses the definition of death, a matter which is clearly of great importance for transplantation ethics, given the rule that vital organs may only be removed form a corpse, but on which opinions are highly divergent. Veatch reviews the debates surrounding the shift from cardiorespiratory to brain-oriented definitions of death, but argues that the currently favoured whole-brain approach is an unstable compromise, subject to the same kinds of objection that its advocates level against the traditional cardiorespiratory accounts. The whole-brain definition should therefore be …

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