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No consent for brain death testing
  1. Thaddeus Mason Pope1,
  2. Alexander Ruck Keene2,3,
  3. Jennifer Chandler4
  1. 1 Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA
  2. 2 39 Essex Chambers, London, UK
  3. 3 Dickson Poon School of Law, Kings College London, London, UK
  4. 4 Law, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Thaddeus Mason Pope, Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; thaddeus.pope{at}


The overwhelming weight of legal authority in the USA and Canada holds that consent is not required for brain death testing. The situation in England and Wales is similar but different. While clinicians in England and Wales may have a prima facie duty to obtain consent, lack of consent has not barred testing. In three recent cases where consent for brain death testing was formally presented to the court, lack of consent was not determinative, and in one case the court questioned whether the clinicians were even required to seek consent from the parents of a child at all.

  • Death
  • Decision Making
  • Parental Consent
  • Ethics- Medical
  • Legislation

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  • Contributors All authors materially contributed to the content and language.

  • 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; internally peer reviewed.

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