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Many people do not think about organ donation, which is quite reasonable given the low chance that they will die in such a way as to permit organ retrieval.In cases where they have not thought or not revealed their thoughts, it seems plausible to say that they have no interest for or against retrieval.
In some cases, the claims of the deceased will be in conflict with those of their families and/or the claims of potential recipients.
The question arises of how to weigh the claims of the deceased.
A lesson in method follows: when describing the practice of organ retrieval, looking at the law alone is inadequate.
A vital second point is that in virtually no country is the consent of the deceased required before organs may be taken (Price 2000).
Among the views that the dead have claims, we may distinguish between those which hold that events after death can harm the interests of the formerly-living and those which hold that it is only the fears and concerns of the living that have weight.
Thus if it is asked why we should attach weight to a person’s refusal of organ retrieval, the first sort of view may say “because to take the organ of a person who refused damages his interest” and the second sort may say “because the anticipation of retrieval against his wishes will be bad for the living person”.
When the deceased has not refused, the family’s agreement is enough to permit retrieval.
The persistent scarcity of organs has given rise to several proposals to reform the system for consent.
Some authors have even suggested that the organs of the dead should be treated as something akin to inheritable property (Voo and Holm 2014).
Acquiring a claim by transfer however is no more controversial than the deceased’s having a claim in the first place.