Project on the Ethics of Transplant Research on the Newly Deceased

The Division of Medical Ethics is undertaking a project with support from United Therapeutics Corporation to produce a report on the ethics of using newly deceased persons to test bioengineered lobes of lung for eventual clinical use. The project is being led by the Division’s director, Arthur Caplan, who has formed a working group composed of members from NYU Langone School of Medicine and other experts from around the United States. The group will specifically address these questions:

  • Can a body that has been donated for medical research be perfused and ventilated to keep it as close to normal homeostasis as technology allows at an OPO (organ procurement organization) facility? If so, once that status is achieved, can it be operated on to receive a manufactured lung transplant to determine whether such lungs provide reasonable gas exchange functionality for sustained periods of time — a day, a week, or months?
  • Is the same possible with or without specific family consent if the deceased was simply an organ donor (without specifying donation for medical research) and whose ischemia time has exceeded transplant criteria? If with family consent, the group will develop an ethically appropriate recommended form of consent for use with the family.

United Therapeutics is covering the cost of the project through a research contract with NYU Langone School of Medicine. A final report will be produced by January 2019.