Volume 21, Number 3, Fall 2010

Legal Briefing: Organ Donation and Allocation


Thaddeus Mason Pope


The Journal of Clinical Ethics 21, no. 3 (Fall 2010): 243-63.


This issue’s "Legal Briefing" column covers legal developments pertaining to organ donation and allocation. This topic has been the subject of recent articles in JCE. Organ donation and allocation have also recently been the subjects of significant public policy attention. In the past several months, legislatures and regulatory agencies across the United States and across the world have changed, or considered changing, the methods for procuring and distributing human organs for transplantation. 


Currently, in the U.S., more than 100,000 persons are waiting for organ transplantation. In China, more than 1.5 million people are waiting. Given the chronic shortage of available organs (especially kidneys and livers) relative to demand, the primary focus of most legal developments has been on increasing the rate of donation. These and related developments are usefully divided into the following 12 topical categories:

1.   Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act

2.   Presumed Consent and Opt-Out

3.   Mandated Choice

4.   Donation after Cardiac Death

5.   Payment and Compensation

6.   Donation by Prisoners

7.   Donor Registries

8.   Public Education

9.   Other Procurement Initiatives

10. Lawsuits and Liability

11. Trafficking and Tourism

12. Allocation and Distribution 

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