Bioethics Blogs

Hastening Death for Organ Donation

Many patients desire to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining medical treatment when they find that the burdens of continued life would outweigh the benefits.  

These patients make a voluntary deliberate decision to hasten their death.  It happens every minute of the day.  But the precise manner of death usually does not permit the use of organs for transplant.  

Therefore, British physician Zoe Fritz has called for permitting these patients to hasten their deaths in a manner that would permit use of their organs.  Her article is free open access at JME.

From her abstract:  “I argue that where it is inevitable that an incapacitous patient is going to die-and specifically when it has been agreed through the courts that a patient in a permanent vegetative state is going to have clinically assisted nutrition and hydration withdrawn (with the inevitable consequence of death, and causing desiccation of the organs such that they are no longer able to be donated)-it could be in a patient’s best interests to actively end their life with a drug that would stop the heart both to minimise potential suffering and in order to be able to have vital organs donated.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.