Transparency and accountability in mass media campaigns about organ donation: A response to Morgan and Feeley

Mohamed Y. Rady, Joan McGregor, Joseph L. Verheijde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We respond to Morgan and Feeley's critique on our article "Mass Media in Organ Donation: Managing Conflicting Messages and Interests." We noted that Morgan and Feeley agree with the position that the primary aims of media campaigns are: "to educate the general public about organ donation process" and "help individuals make informed decisions" about organ donation. For those reasons, the educational messages in media campaigns should not be restricted to "information from pilot work or focus groups" but should include evidence-based facts resulting from a comprehensive literature research. We consider the controversial aspects about organ donation to be relevant, if not necessary, educational materials that must be disclosed in media campaigns to comply with the legal and moral requirements of informed consent. With that perspective in mind, we address the validity of Morgan and Feeley's claim that media campaigns have no need for informing the public about the controversial nature of death determination in organ donation. Scientific evidence has proven that the criteria for death determination are inconsistent with the Uniform Determination of Death Act and therefore potentially harmful to donors. The decision by campaign designers to use the statutory definition of death without disclosing the current controversies surrounding that definition does not contribute to improved informed decision making. We argue that if Morgan and Feeley accept the important role of media campaigns to enhance informed decision making, then critical controversies should be disclosed. In support of that premise, we will outline: (1) the wide-spread scientific challenges to brain death as a concept of death; (2) the influence of the donor registry and team-huddling on the medical care of potential donors; (3) the use of authorization rather than informed consent for donor registration; (4) the contemporary religious controversy; and (5) the effects of training desk clerks as organ requestors at the Department of Motor Vehicles offices. We conclude that organ donation is a medical procedure subject to all the ethical obligations that the medical profession must uphold including that of transparency and truthfulness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)869-876
Number of pages8
JournalMedicine, Health Care and Philosophy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Brain death
  • Cardiac death
  • Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Legislations
  • Media campaigns
  • Media communications
  • Media priming
  • Organ donation
  • Organ-donor registry
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Health Policy


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