And how did it benefit the anencephalic infant
to have another couple of months of life in utero, and then five hours of life outside?
The board clarified modifications on the 1989 position paper on The Anencephalic Infant
as an Organ Source: Medical and Ethical Considerations by adding:
Possible mechanisms for increasing the supply of organs being explored include animal kidneys, anencephalic infant
organs, and estate tax credits for organ donations.
For example, ethics committee members who conclude that it is ethical to donate the organs of an anencephalic infant
to patients in need of them must be reminded that current legal definitions of "brain death" do not include anencepahlic infants, and that the possibility of organ transplantation is therefore precluded.
Removal of organs would not seem to violate any interests of the anencephalic infant
, whose imminent death is certain and who presumably is incapable of experiencing pain or discomfort.
Whether or not an anencephalic infant
, or even a normal infant, is "conscious" or capable of "suffering" is a philosophical question that is empirically unanswerable, if by these terms one means a subjective self-awareness associated with the respective behavioral reaction to environmental stimuli.
Theoretically, a single anencephalic infant
with healthy thoracic and abdominal organs could supply vital organs to save the lives of two other infants (one needing a heart and another a liver) and enhance the lives of several others (who need kidneys, corneas, and various transplantable tissues.
Third, although the anencephalic infant
is certainly doomed, if we wait for its expiration under presently accepted guidelines, the potentially life-saving organs will deteriorate and cease to be transplantable.
7] The anencephalic infant
is viewed as a nonperson at best, subhuman at worst.
But anencephalic infants
seem to lack the material basis that enables self-consciousness.
This concern also surfaces for many in debates over retrieving organs from anencephalic infants
, allowing students to practice on newly dead patients, and conducting research on human embryos.
Consider recent proposals from the highest ranks of the American medical profession to allow harvesting of organs from anencephalic infants