Organ donation: Dead or alive?

The ethics of organ transplantation are largely based on ‘brain death’ – the certainty that brain activity is irreversibly over – to allow harvesting of organs from the cadaver while the heart is still beating. But, there is considerable debate about what the ability of the body to survive such a loss might mean for the ethics of organ transplantation. Are we confident in saying that these living bodies are dead? Even to presume consent for donation in these cases? Do we trust doctors enough to make the decision for us? Medical ethics boards? Public opinion? Philosophers, theologians, politicians? In this Battle of Ideas debate, we learn that central to this issue is just what we mean by being human and how we value autonomy and free will.