Brain death and organ transplants: international and ethical aspects
05 January 2014
David Rodríguez-Arias, Professor of Philosophy at Universidad de Salamanca
This study is an adaptation of the author's doctoral thesis, completed under joint supervision by the Universities of Salamanca and Paris-Descartes. The central aim of the thesis was to analyze the ethical issues regarding the determination of human death and the extraction of organs for transplant.
It incorporates empirical research conducted in Spain, France and the United States, and funded by France's Agency for Biomedicine, and aims to analyze and compare knowledge, opinions and attitudes of over five hundred health professionals in these three countries regarding brain death and organ transplants.
The study consists of four sections:
- Setting out the historical relationship between brain death and organ transplants, and explaining the current legal-medical model for determining human death and proceeding to extract the organs.
- Discussing the conceptual and epistemological problems which underlie the determination of human death and its normative implications.
- Debating organ extraction as a genuinely normative problem.
- Exploring the knowledge and opinions of the professionals involved in the process of organ donation and transplantation with regard to the concept of death and the extraction of organs.
Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Salamanca