A Bioethical Analysis of Death and Organ Donation-Transplantation: Medical, Metaphysical, and Biophilosophical Considerations
- Doyen Nguyen |
Why should the general public, especially Catholics, be actively engaged in the issue of Death and Organ Donation? One can easily say: “the issue is of no concern to me, it does not touch my personal life.” In reality, this is an issue which does touch every human person. The reason is rather simple: anybody can find him- or herself in the unfortunate situation of being either (i) a comatose patient who, according to today’s new medical paradigms of death (namely, brain death and controlled cardiac circulatory death), is considered as a potential organ-donor by health professionals, or (ii) a close family member of one such comatose patient.
Life and death are ontological realities standing at opposite ends to one another; yet they are tightly intertwined with each other in organ donation-transplantation. This is why St. Pope John Paul II once stated, “it is conceivable that in order to escape certain and imminent death a patient may need to receive an organ which could be provided by another patient, who may be lying next to him in hospital, but about whose death there still remains some doubt.”
Much of the general public has remained largely uninformed about the real nature of the new medical paradigms of death. They have raised considerable controversies within academic circles, however. At the heart of the ongoing debates is the unsettling question: are donors truly dead when they are declared dead (whether according to the brain death or the controlled cardiac/circulatory death protocol); are they truly dead at the time of the removal of their organs?
This course is specifically designed to answer the above question, by using a multidisciplinary approach to the bioethical investigation of Death and Organ Donation.