AbstractOrgan donation offers opportunities for people in critical care units to help save the lives of other patients. It is not always easy, however, to handle the transition from treating a patient to preserving a potential donor, and organ donation consistently provokes ethical questions in critical care units. What do we expect ethics to deliver? In light of a recent ethics conference in Denmark, we suggest that by acknowledging that decisions made in the clinic rarely abide to rational decision trees with clear ethical priorities, we can better learn from each other's experiences. We suggest embracing an 'ethics of muddling through' to enhance relevant reflections and stimulate a productive dialogue among health professionals.