Canada is giving thought to organ donation following euthanasia

Publié le 27 Jan, 2017

Recently legalised in Canada, euthanasia is currently being considered alongside organ donation. In fact, bioethicists in Quebec published an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics in December, asking for the organs of euthanised individuals to be harvested.


For the two authors, Julie Allard and Marie-Chantal Fortin, bioethicists at Montreal University, “medically assisted dying may be another source of obtaining organs for transplantation. (…) Organ donation following medically assisted dying would be ethically acceptable if the patient who consented to organ harvesting was deemed capable of making such a decision with no external pressure to make the choice for medically assisted dying or organ donation”. They stress that the decision to donate an organ must be entirely separate from that to undergo euthanasia. They nevertheless recognise the fact that there could be “ethical complications” and that it will be “difficult to unravel the reasons behind medically assisted dying requests”. Patients could feel that they are a burden and will only feel useful by donating their organs.


Quebec Transplant  adopts the same stance together with a Quebec Government Ethics Committee. According to the latter, “considering that a request for medically assisted dying is an entitlement, that organ donation is socially acceptable and the patient has made an express request, considering that the committee has always welcomed organ donation, the committee recommends that all of the responsible institutions should take the necessary steps to ensure that both criteria are compatible”.


This type of policy already exists in Belgium and the Netherlands. Between 2005 and 2015, 21 Belgians and 15 Dutch people arranged to donate their organs following euthanasia.

Bioedge, Michael Cook (14/01/2017)

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