Euthanasia and organ donation in Canada: warning against spin-offs

Publié le 11 May, 2016

Whilst the Federal draft bill on medically assisted dying will soon be adopted in Canada, the ethical issues remain. The Science and Technology Ethics Committee has focused on the question of organ donation in this context and yesterday published its recommendations on avoiding spin-offs. Its conclusion: “legalisation of medically assisted dying does allow undue pressure to be placed on eligible patients to convince them to donate their organs”.


In fact, the delicate issue is that both requests are reconcilable. As far as CEST is concerned, the necessary conditions must be implemented. For both requests to be processed independently, one after the other, the request for euthanasia must be dealt with initially by two different teams. “The two approaches must be water-tight,” explained Edith Deleury, President of CEST, who wants to avoid “creating a cause-effect [link] between the two”.


However, with margins so slim and in view of the information given to patients about organ shortages, why not “ask”? For Marie-José Clermont, at the CHU Sainte-Justine (University Hospital Centre), clear mechanisms should swiftly be put in place since a double request could present itself “today or tomorrow”.


Manon Chevalier, Geriatric physician, confirmed that organ donation is not consistent with the “type of death” desired by those requesting medical assistance to die. They should be told that they will not be able to die at home, at their convenience, but in an operating theatre of a medical establishment where the organ can be collected.


As far as the Commission is concerned, “organ donation can give a meaning to death”, but this argument cannot be used to convince people.

Le devoir, Sarah R. Champagne (12/05/2016)

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