The dead donor rule: How much does the public care . . . and how much should we care?

Megan Crowley-Matoka, Robert M. Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In this brief commentary, we reflect on the recent study by Siminoff, Burant, and Youngner of public attitudes toward "brain death" and organ donation, focusing on the implications of their findings for the rules governing from whom organs can be obtained. Although the data suggest that many seem to view "brain death" as "as good as dead" rather than "dead" (calling the dead donor rule into question), we find that the study most clearly demonstrates that understanding an individual's definition of death is neither a straightforward task nor a good predictor of views about donation. Reflecting on the implications for ongoing debates over the dead donor rule, we suggest that perhaps it is not a change in policy that is warranted, but rather a change in the priorities that have garnered such intense focus on this issue within the field of bioethics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-332
Number of pages14
JournalKennedy Institute of Ethics journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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