Heart transplantation without informed consent: Discussion of a case

A. M. Grande, M. Rinaldi, C. Goggi, P. Politi, M. Viganò

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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. Intervention: 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-254
Number of pages4
JournalIntensive Care Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Decision making
  • Heart failure
  • Heart transplantation
  • Informed consent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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