skip to content

Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences

Faculty of Law

A second Philomathia Forum Award has been received by LML members. With the support of this second award, Drs Matt Dyson and Kathy Liddell, together with Mr Kourosh Saeb-Parsy, a clinical consultant in organ transplantation, will organize a workshop on the legal issues surrounding the transplantation of sub-optimal organs.

Sub-optimal organs are used routinely and with increasing frequency as people live longer before donating their organs, and in view of the long waiting lists for organ transplants demands. However, not surprisingly, patient outcomes can be significantly poorer than with better quality organs. Indeed in 2013/2014, two deaths following transplantation of sub-optimal organs led to significant national media coverage and a Coroner’s inquest.

Presently there is an absence of clarity on the legal regime implications and limits of the use of sub-optimal organs. A detailed review of these issues is of the utmost importance for transplant clinicians. The Workshop will focus on two key relevant actions in tort: negligence and product liability. For example, it is of interest and some bewilderment for transplant clinicians to learn that defective organs that cause harm could give rise to ‘product liability’. It is also of interest to discuss recent developments in the legal criteria for valid consent in medical negligence in the sub-optimal transplant setting. A cross-cutting question is the impact a patient’s awareness of risks, and his or her informed consent to those risks, has on liability in both areas of tort law.

The Cambridge Transplant Unit is one of the biggest in Europe, performing a total of almost 300 kidney, liver, pancreas and intestinal transplants annually. The LML advances research and teaching on legal and ethical challenges at the forefront of medicine and the life sciences.

This workshop will continue recent work by Dyson, Saeb-Parsy, Liddell and others published in the Lancet (2015; 386: 719-21). It is a joint initiative of the University’s Faculty of Law and Clinical School.

Please contact us at if you have a special interest in this topic.