Recently, in the Netherlands, a man who underwent euthanasia donated his organs and “savedfive lives”. The procedure was carried out at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam. The man “was suffering from the consequences of a stroke and therefore stated that he no longer wished to live”. He was given euthanasia and then donated his liver, kidneys, pancreas and two other organs. The recipients were waiting in an adjacent operating theatre. Euthanasia was therefore carried out at the hospital for practical reasons and family members “only had 5 minutes to say their farewells”.
The first case of this type dates back to 2012. Since then, 15 Dutch people have donated their organs following euthanasia. Details of this controversial practice was also published last week in the American Journal of Transplantation: a “clinical manual” that gives guidelines “for doctors whose patients have requested euthanasia and who wish to donate their organs”. The main author, Jan Bollen, explained that the manual does not focus on ethical questions but is intended to respond to “logistic and practical” questions such as, “When a doctor is faced with a request for euthanasia, should he/she mention the possibility of organ donation?” and draw attention to this “medical option which many doctors and patients tend to overlook”.
However, other questions are emerging, “How should you deal with a person requesting euthanasia specifically to donate his/her organs? How do you know? What pressure does this place on the future of the person requesting euthanasia who, in theory, can always change his/her mind right up until the last second?”
News Medical (24/02/2016) ; NLTimes (24/02/2016)