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Against abandoning the dead donor rule: reply to Smith
  1. Adam Omelianchuk1,2
  1. 1 Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA
  2. 2 Biomedical Ethics, Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Adam Omelianchuk, Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA; omelianchuk{at}


Smith argues that death caused by transplant surgery will not harm permanently unconscious patients, because they will not suffer a setback to their interests in the context of donation. Therefore, so the argument goes, the dead donor rule can be abandoned, because requiring a death declaration before procurement does not protect any relevant interest from being thwarted. Smith contends that a virtue of his argument is that it avoids the controversies over defining and determining death. I argue that it does not and explain why no change in policy is justified.

  • Death
  • Transplantation
  • Ethics
  • Euthanasia

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  • Contributors AO is the sole author of this work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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