The Risks in Presuming

Louisa Howard
Organ transplantation brings up a myriad of bioethical issues, especially with regard to informed consent. In the US, an "opt-in" approach is practiced, in which patients' organs will not be harvested unless they or their next-of-kin have provided written consent. Many people across the globe also advocate for the "opt-out" approach in which everyone is an organ donor unless they have withdrawn consent. It is important to emphasize that this system is still based upon informed consent, since
more » ... d consent, since every citizen should hopefully be aware of the nation's organ donation policy. However, these valuable and necessary systems are by no means implemented globally, even in other developed countries. Recently, Russia made global headlines when a group of doctors at Moscow City Clinical Hospital No. 1 removed a patient's organs after her death from an automobile accident, unbeknownst to both the dying patient or her grieving parents. The organ harvesting and subsequent transplantation incidents may have forever gone unreported to the family if it were not for the mother filing paperwork in connection with the case against the other driver. While reviewing documents, she came across a puzzling forensic report that explicitly detailed the removal of seven of her daughter's organs. An article distributed by the Moscow Times states that this event was not the only one of its kind that has happened in Russia. In 1992, a federal law on human organ and tissue transplantation created more confusion than clear guidelines on the issue (The Moscow Times, "Russia's Unknown, Unwilling Organ Donors"). As the article states, the text is full of flaws that could potentially lead a healthcare personnel to secretly harvest organs. There exists a "presumption of consent" by the individual or a close family member to the postmortem removal of organs for use in transplantation. The main issue lies in the lack of respect to the patient's family—in the lack of commitment to inform the family. Although, presumably, the act of organ removal will subsequ [...]
doi:10.7916/vib.v1i.6582 fatcat:db4hx2sibjc5lpvtuzzuywxr6u