Doctors harvesting organs from Canadian patients who underwent medically assisted death

by Sharon Kirkey, National Post, 20 March 2017

Ms Kirkey reports that in Ontario “26 people who died by lethal injection have donated tissue or organs since the federal law decriminalizing medical assistance in dying, or MAID, came into effect last June.”

“If we accept people can make decisions to end life, and we accept the idea of cardiac death being sufficient for organ donation, this should be acceptable,” said Dr. James Downar, a Toronto critical care doctor and co-chair of a Canadian Blood Services committee developing organ donation guidelines for what is being called the “conscious competent patient.”

“The concern that comes up is, could the decision for one drive the decision for the other?”

Ethicists say organ donation could put pressure on those who qualify for assisted suicide to choose death, that the terminally ill “may feel they would better serve society by dying and saving other people’s lives,” Dr. Marie-Chantal Fortin, a transplant nephrologist at the Centre hospitalier de l’Universite de Montreal, and ethicist Julie Allard write in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Others are asking, what if people agree to donate, but then change their mind about hastening death? Would they feel compelled to follow through with the act, knowing the chosen recipients are waiting for their organs?

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