Do donation after cardiac death protocols violate criminal homicide statutes?

Joan McGregor, Joseph L. Verheijde, Mohamed Y. Rady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


It is widely known that there is a tremendous shortage of organs for transplantation. In an attempt to increase the number of organ donations, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in its 1997 and 2000 reports and United States Department of Health and Human Services, recommended the promotion of programs for Donation after Cardiac Death (DCD). DCD involves the withdrawal of life support from the patient/donor. After cardiac arrest the patient is declared dead and in 2 to 5 minutes the surgeons begin to remove the organs for transplantation. In this paper, we explore the question whether the protocols for DCD violate states' criminal homicide statutes since the patient is not dead at the time of procurement. After investigating of the homicide rules, the Uniform Determination of Death Act and the protocols for DCD, we conclude by arguing that the DCD likely violates criminal homicide rules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-257
Number of pages17
JournalMedicine and Law
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Consent
  • Criminal law
  • Donation after cardiac death
  • Homicide
  • Non heart-beating donor
  • Organ donation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Law


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