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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Heart transplantation without informed consent: discussion of a case.

OBJECTIVE: To discuss informed consent to heart transplantation in the case of an intensive care unit (ICU) patient: relatives' informed consent was refused by the patient himself whose cognitive ability appeared to be reasonable for the purpose. SETTING: ICU of a university teaching hospital. PATIENT: A 62-year-old man who underwent myocardial revascularization had in the immediate post-operative hemodynamic instability, continuous serious arrhythmias, ventilatory support, fentanyl infusion. Heart transplantation could be the only chance for his survival. INVENTION: Heart transplantation. RESULTS: Despite patient's refusal, we decided to hold the relative's consent as valid, and transplantation was accordingly performed, to the subsequent satisfaction of the patient. CONCLUSIONS: Our decision was based on two beliefs: (1) the severity of the patient's clinical condition may have impaired his cognitive abilities; (2) the very same conditions may mask impairment and certainly make reliable assessment of cognition and judgment impossible. This being so, the preservation of life assumes priority.[1]


  1. Heart transplantation without informed consent: discussion of a case. Grande, A.M., Rinaldi, M., Goggi, C., Politi, P., Viganò, M. Intensive care medicine. (1998) [Pubmed]
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