The New England Journal of Medicine has printed the story of an ethical dilemma that doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital grappled with back in 2008. Is it ethical to keep a brain-dead patient on life support to harvest her eggs, in the hopes of allowing her husband to still father her child?
The story began in 2008 when a woman in her mid-thirties collapsed on an international flight. She had suffered a heart attack after a blood clot had formed in her lung. The woman was rushed to Mass. General Hospital where she was diagnosed with irreversible brain damage and was put on life support. Her family made the decision to take her off life support. But shortly after they turned off the machines, her family asked whether they could be turned back on long enough to harvest a viable egg from the dying woman’s womb.
Dr. David Greer, a neurologist on the team of doctors at Mass. General, which debated the ethics and the medicine behind the wishes of the patient's family. Ultimately, the eggs were not harvested. Medical ethicist Dena Davis agrees that this was the right outcome.