August 4, 2008

Surgeon Wants Clarity of Donor Law

The man who will soon head organ transplantation in Britain says the law that surgeons should consider a donor's best interests needs to be broadened.

Dr. Chris Rudge, a former transplant surgeon, says the definition of a patient's best interest should include honoring a wish that his or her organs be used to help others, The Times of London reported Monday.

As an example, Rudge said broadening the definition would permit a critical care doctor to keep a patient alive an hour or two longer to enable organs to be collected.

Doctors are ethically obliged to behave in a way that is in the patient's best interests. But the law does not define clearly what that means, he told The Times. I would like to see a recognition that a patient's best interests can encompass aspects beyond the purely medical.

Rudge will assume the newly created post of national clinical director for transplantation next month. He is charged with increasing organ donation by 50 percent in five years, The Times said.