Article Abstract

A few realistic questions raised by organ retrieval in the intensive care unit

Authors: Olivier Lesieur, Liliane Genteuil, Maxime Leloup


Organ transplantation saves the lives of many persons who would otherwise die from end-stage organ disease. The increasing demand for donated organs has led to a renewed interest in donation after circulatory determination of death (CDD). In many countries (including France), terminally ill patients who die of circulatory arrest after a planned withdrawal of life support may be considered as organ donors under certain conditions. While having equal responsibility towards the potential donor and the persons awaiting a transplant, caregivers may experience an ethical dilemma between the responsibility to deliver the best care to the dying, and the need to retrieve the organs. Once it has been established that the patient wishes to be a donor, we assume that end-of-life care and organ donation may have convergent goals when they contribute to transforming a comfortable death into a chance of life for others in need.