A critique of the concept of autonomy in organ donation

Consolo, Henrietta Katherine (2023) A critique of the concept of autonomy in organ donation. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The legal requirement for consent or authorization for the use of an organ for transplantation places donor autonomy as the prima facie ethical principle underpinning organ procurement in the UK. Donor autonomy is central to the ethical discourse of transplantation yet this concept remains poorly articulated in the legal and regulatory framework governing organ donation where it is framed narrowly in terms of consent or authorisation.

I analyse the legal framework governing living and deceased organ donation in England, Scotland, and Wales and the regulatory processes for the approval of application for living organ donation and seek to identify whether these are consistent with a particular understanding of autonomy. I consider the adult donor and the child donor separately.

I maintain that the choice to donate an organ is a deeply personal decision based on motivations and values that matter to the donor. I explore the understanding of autonomy in relation to decisions to donate an organ for transplantation from the perspective of the person whose organs are used. I am concerned with a substantive account of autonomy that goes beyond the decisional authority over the use of one’s organs. Starting from this premise, I examine the role of self-reflection, personal values and relationships, and moral responsibilities and commitments in decisions to donate an organ and focus on the idea of authenticity understood as a choice that the donor endorses as their own.

I argue that consent or authorization that is lawful from a procedural perspective does not ensure that the decisions of the person whose organs are used for transplantation are respected and does not require that these choices are based on a decision-making process that engages with personal autonomy in a meaningful way.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
K Law > KD England and Wales
K Law > KD England and Wales > KDC Scotland
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Supervisor's Name: Elliston, Miss Sarah and Mair, Professor Jane
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83929
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2023 13:56
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2023 13:58
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83929
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/83929

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