Bioethics News

Canadian bioethicists call for organ donor euthanasia

Well, that didn’t take long. Euthanasia became legal in Canada in June and by December Quebec bioethicists had already published an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics calling for organ donation after euthanasia. In fact, they were reflecting the positive opinions of the both the Quebec government and Transplant Quebec.

The authors, Julie Allard and Marie-Chantal Fortin, bioethicists at the University of Montreal, argue that

“MAID (medical aid in dying) has the potential to provide additional organs available for transplantation. Accepting to procure organ donation after MAID is a way to respect the autonomy of patients, for whom organ donation is an important value. Organ donation after MAID would be ethically acceptable if the patient who has offered to donate is competent and not under any external pressure to choose MAID or organ donation”.

However, they insist that the decision to donate should be separate from the decision to be euthanized. They point out that such a policy could have a negative impact upon the public’s perception of organ donation, so they urge that further studies be done.  

Not very publicized, but pre-dating the publication of the JME article, are position statements from Transplant Quebec (no link available) and an ethics committee of the Quebec government. The latter stated on May 11 that:

Considering that a request for medical help in dying is a right, that organ donation is socially acceptable and it is an express request of the patient, and considering that the Commission [Commission de l’éthique en science et en technologie]  has always praised organ donation in preceding position statements, the Commission recommends that all the institutions responsible set in place the necessary conditions for making these two requirements compatible.

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.