Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Article on Devising Cryopreserved Anatomical Gifts


Anh Tran (2014 J.D. Candidate, Texas Tech University School of Law) recently published an article entitled, Gifts of the Future: The Legal and Moral Implications of a Testator Devising a Cryopreserved Anatomical Gift to a Beneficiary Who Does Not Yet Need the Gift, 6 Est. Plan. & Cmty. Prop. L.J. 157 (Fall 2013).  Provided below is the introduction to her article:

In the impossible, there is possible.  In 1954, doctors successfully transplanted the first human organ.  Over fifty years later, more than 28,000 Americans are alive because they received a successful organ transplant.  In an age where science quickly catches up to currently perceived science fiction, many states have implemented laws to deal with anatomical gifts.  But, what happens when science exceeds the expectations of those laws?  What happens when cryogenic centers are able to preserve anatomical gifts, and thereafter, successfully rejuvenate them for organ transplantations?  What happens when a beneficiary receives a cryopreserved anatomical gift, but does not yet need it?

This comment addresses some of the legal and moral implications that arise when a testator devises a cryopreserved anatomical gift to a beneficiary who does not yet need the gift.  In Part I, the institutions that handle anatomical gifts are presented to lay the foundation for this article for three main reasons: first, to look into the process of how individuals may donate their organs; second, to discuss the current methods surgeons use to harvest an organ; and, third, explore the feasibility of cryopreserving an organ.  Part II explores the future outlook and moral implications that arise if cryopreserved anatomical gifts can be devised to a beneficiary.  Part III addresses the current laws that make anatomical gifts possible.  Lastly, Part IV proposes some limitations to a testator’s ability to devise a cryopreserved anatomical gift to a beneficiary who does not yet need the gift.

With modern technology, the future quickly approaches and brings reality upon us.  The research and assertions within this comment investigate whether or not the legal world is ready to deal with the ramifications this may entail.  Specifically, this comment will explore what the legal world must do to be fully prepared for when science collides with reality.


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