Donating organs against a person's wishes

Hypothetically, let’s say my husband does not wish to be an organ donor at the time of his death, but I disagree with that decision. I have talked to him about it, and he just doesn’t want to do it. Now he is dead. Can I authorize the donation of his organs against his wishes? (This is a factual question, but I can’t seem to find the answer with google.) Do you think it is ethical to do so? Do the wishes of a dead person ethically trump the obvious good of saving multiple lives?

As a practical matter, I think you probably can. Think all it takes is the consent of the next of kin, and it ain’t like the corpse gonna sue you or anything. Ethics? I’d say hell no. If you know what his wishes were, and do the opposite, bad karma on you. If ya did that to me, I’d make a point of coming back from the dead to haunt you until you went insane and took your own life. But I’m touchy that way.

Once he is dead, he is no longer here. His body is no longer his. You may do with it as you will.

Ooh, take it from me, you can get in some big trouble for . . .

Oh, you mean against the donor’s wishes.

Never mind.

Well, at the moment, most states recognize the next of kin as the owners of the corpse, to do with as they see fit (my in-laws have a long history of going against people’s wishes upon their death). However, I just saw a thing at the DMV recently that said we will soon make organ donor status a legal document that will not require agreement by the family. That is as it should be.

I don’t think it’s ethical from a respect-for-the-dead-guy’s-wishes standpoint, but I am a support of organ donation and feel that everyone should do it just to be a good citizen of planet Earth. It would be nice if people all believed that it’s the right thing to do, but obviously they don’t.

Don’t some religions prohibit organ donation. If your spouse belonged to one such religion and you didn’t, donating the organs would be the ultimate revenge.

Which religions prohibit donation? I cannot recall any off the top of my head.

Yes, i’d say it was immoral to donate someone’s organs against their will.

Of course, once they’re dead, they don’t have a will to do anything anymore, so they’re fair game.

All of my close relatives are organ donors, and my mother was a total-body donor, so that type of issue fortunately shouldn’t come up with us.

Legally, if they put it in their will that they do not want to be an organ donor, I don’t think you can get around that.

And I don’t think I could do something so very personal to someone I loved, even if I disagreed with them.

Traditional Judaism prohibits it in some circumstances.

In fact, that’s one reason I will be very glad if/when the decision is left up to the owner of the organs in question if his/her wishes have been made clearly known before death; I am very pro-organ donation, but I suspect my next-of-kin (Mom, at the moment) might suddenly get super-Jewish if anything happened to me and refuse to donate my organs.

Not positive on this, but I believe the family can do any darn thang they want with your body in most places. The rights of the living override the rights of the dead guy with respect to the body, even with a will. But I’d be willing to bet inheritance could hinge on whether or not you follow the deceased’s wishes. “If you donate my parts, no inheritance for you!” Can anyone cite some law on this? (I’m in Illinois, by the way.)

Here is a link on the policy on organ donation by various religions.

This page talks about directives. Though it is coming from the angle of increasing the number of donations, I would guess that a living will explicitly stating that someone does not want his or her organs donated would take precedence over next of kin - which is more or less the new California rule in the opposite direction. Most of the discussion in the link is around the case where no preference was expressed - the next of kin clearly can approve donations in this case.

When I was 18 years old and in the hospital after a horrible car accident, I was about to have an operation. I had been close to death for weeks. My (bipolar) mother pressured me to sign an organ donation form. I was crying in terror, sure this meant I was going to die. Unless someone has authorized organ donation, DON’T DO IT~!~!!! How unethical can you GET???

This really is a hypothetical. I am not going to do this, I was just wondering what people thought. If a person has been rendered brain-dead by an car accident, say, and they said they didn’t want their organs donated but didn’t put it in writing, I don’t think it is that cut and dried ethically. I believe it is wrong not to save a life if you can without any cost to yourself, and I believe it is unethical to let perfectly good organs rot in the ground.

Does it matter what reason the deceased verbally gave for not wanting to donate? If it just grossed him/her out, vs. immortal soul issues? I can see respecting religious issues, even if you find them ridiculous, but who cares if a dead guy is grossed out? Does it matter how strongly the person felt?