The startling case of Jahi McMath has renewed public and academic attention to questions about the adequacy of ‘brain death’ as a definition of death. Adherence to this definition has the practical merit of reconciling the current system of organ transplantation with the ethical prohibition against harvesting vital organs from living patients (sometimes called the ‘dead donor rule’). Criticisms of the brain death definition therefore raise difficult questions about the future of vital organ transplantation. Following the 2019 McGovern Lecture, to be delivered by Robert Truog, MD, this one-day symposium brings leading experts to Duke to explore some of these difficult questions.

Hosted by Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine
at the Duke University School of Medicine