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A stronger policy of organ retrieval from cadaveric donors: some ethical considerations
  1. C L Hamer1,*,
  2. M M Rivlin2
  1. 1Renal Transplant Unit, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester, UK
  2. 2Nuffield Institute of Health, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M M Rivlin, Prospect House, 32 Sovereign Street, Leeds, LS1 4BJ, UK; email 


Taking organs from dead people seems, prima facie, to raise fewer ethical complications than taking organs from other sources. There are, however, serious ethical problems in taking organs from the dead unless there is premortem evidence that this is what the deceased would have wanted, or at least, not have objected to. In this paper we will look at a “strong” opting out policy as proposed by John Harris. We will argue that people can be harmed after their death and that the posthumous removal of organs against their expressed wishes is one form that such harm might take. We also argue that Harris’s claim that we show “equality of concern” between the donor and recipient requires too much.

  • organ retrieval from cadaveric donors
  • harming the dead
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  • * Also a doctoral student, School of Philosophy, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

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