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I have two goals this month. First, to examine a case that's in the news. Second, to counsel skepticism in reading news accounts of cases. Recently, I was talking with an admirable scholar. He said that transplant surgeons sometimes kill potential donors to obtain their organs efficiently. He added, "This isn't just an urban legend - there's a real case in California." A little research turned up California v. Roozrokh. A little Googling found stories from several reputable news sources. Their headlines indeed intimated that a transplant surgeon had tried to kill a patient to get transplantable organs. "Doctor accused of hastening death for patient's organs." Time: "Organ Donation[:] Did a Doctor Speed a Patient's Death?" The New York Times: "Surgeon Accused of Speeding a Death to Get Organs." These headlines (and the stories) implied, I thought, that a prosecutor had charged a surgeon with doing something intended to kill a patient and that the patient had consequently died.


Reprinted with the permission of the Hastings Center Report and Wiley-Blackwell.