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Organ transplants continue to redefine medical frontiers. Unfortunately, current demand for organs far surpasses availability, waiting lists are long and many people die before the organ they desperately need becomes available. One proposed way to increase organ availability is to admit patients to the ICU with severe neurological injuries, for a trial of therapy. If the injury is irretrievable, discussions would then focus on extending ventilation for potential brain death/organ donation if a prior wish to donate is known or if the substitute decision maker consents. The following debate discusses the ethical dilemmas of waiting for brain death.

Original publication




Journal article


Critical care (London, England)

Publication Date





399 - 402


University Lecturer in Medical Ethics, The Ethox Centre, University of Oxford, UK.


Humans, Brain Death, Brain Injuries, Prognosis, Resuscitation, Respiration, Artificial, Withholding Treatment, Severity of Illness Index, Decision Making, Adolescent, Adult, Intensive Care Units, Tissue and Organ Procurement, Male