Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics

SPECIAL SECTION: Organ Transplantation: Shaping Policy and Keeping Public Trust

From Pittsburgh to Cleveland: NHBD Controversies and Bioethics

a1 Department of Bioethics, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio


In March 1997, 60 Minutes, a nationally syndicated news magazine program, featured a story in which it was claimed that The Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF) had in place a non-heart-beating donor (NHBD) protocol that involved killing patients for their organs. These charges were brought by a philosopher from a local university. A student who worked at LifeBanc, the northeastern Ohio organ procurement agency where the organ donation protocol originated, was given the protocol by LifeBanc with the understanding that it was to be used in class; the student and professor charged that the protocol involved killing patients for their organs. These claims were advanced without noting that the protocol was a draft that was being reviewed and revised and had not been implemented.