Family overrule of registered refusal to donate organs
Journal of the Intensive Care Society
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It is well known that families frequently overrule the wishes of dying patients who had previously expressed a wish to donate their organs. Various strategies have been suggested to reduce the frequency of these 'family overrules'. However, the possibility of families overruling a patient's registered decision not to donate has not been discussed in the medical literature, although it is legally possible in some countries. In this article, we provide an ethical analysis of family overrule of a relative's refusal to donate, using the different jurisdictions of the UK, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands to provide some context. Despite some asymmetries between overruling consent and overruling refusal, there are some cases in which donation should proceed despite a recorded refusal to do so.