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On harm thresholds and living organ donation: must the living donor benefit, on balance, from his donation?

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>03/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy
Issue number1
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)11-22
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date19/05/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


For the majority of scholars concerned with the ethics of living organ donation, inflicting moderate harms on competent volunteers in order to save the lives or increase the life chances of others is held to be justifiable provided certain conditions are met. These conditions tend to include one, or more commonly, some combination of the following:

1. The living donor provides valid consent to donation.
2. Living donation produces an overall positive balance of harm-benefit for donors and recipients which cannot be obtained in a less harmful manner.
3. Donation is not liable to cause significant and long-term morbidity to, or the death of, the donor.

This paper critically examines the suggestion that these criteria are not sufficient to offer a general account of justified living organ donation in the context of competent volunteers and that key to justified living organ donation is that donors receive sufficient benefits from their donation that these outweigh the harms they suffer. However, although this view – termed here ‘The Donor Benefit Standard’ – directs welcome attention to the many and complex motives which may underlie living organ donation, this paper ultimately concludes that given the threats this position poses to individual autonomy and the lives of those in need of organ transplants ‘The Donor Benefit Standard’ should ultimately be rejected.

Bibliographic note

The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11019-017-9778-x