This excellent article by Michael Cook titled “Everybody’s a Winner When Euthanasia Combines with Organ Donation, Says Doctors” is a must read for anyone concerned about ethics and healthcare.
Michael Cook, the current editor of Mercatornet, writes that
Several Dutch and Belgian doctors have proposed legal reforms to increase the popularity of combining euthanasia and organ donation in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Writing in the Journal of Medical Ethics, they report valuable unpublished information about the prevalence of the procedure. So far, it has been performed only about 40 times in the two countries. However, there is “a persisting discrepancy between the number of organ donors and the number of patients on the waiting lists for transplantation” – which euthanasia patients could help to balance. (Emphasis added)
Ominously, the authors of this British Medical Journal article titled “Legal and ethical aspects of organ donation after euthanasia in Belgium and the Netherlands”, write that public perception of this formerly abhorrent practice is increasingly positive:
“transplant coordinators in Belgium and the Netherlands notice a contemporary trend towards an increasing willingness and motivation to undergo euthanasia and to subsequently donate organs as well, supported by the increasing number of publications in popular media on this topic.”
“In the context of organ donation after euthanasia, the right of self-determination is a paramount ethical and legal aspect. It is the patient’s wish and right to die in a dignified way, and likewise his wish to donate his organs is expressed. Organ donation after euthanasia enables those who do not wish to remain alive to prolong the lives of those who do, and also—compared with ‘classical’ donation after circulatory death—allows many more people to fulfil their wish to donate organs after death.” (Emphasis added)
This slippery slope actually started in 1998 when Jack Kevorkian removed the kidneys of one of his victims and offered them for transplantation. Almost everyone was stunned and horrified. Transplant surgeons refused the organs at that time but the reasons given in some news articles unfortunately had less to do with the ethics than with the concerns over the viability of the organs and the harvesting technique of the organs themselves.
By 2003, the prestigious journal Critical Care Medicine published an article titled “Role of brain death and the dead-donor rule in the ethics of organ transplantation” by Drs. Robert D. Troug and Walter M. Robinson that went even further:
“We propose that individuals who desire to donate their organs and who are either neurologically devastated or imminently dying should be allowed to donate their organs, without first being declared dead”. (Emphasis added)
Thus, the actual cause of death would be the organ removal which, in itself, would be euthanasia.
We should not assume that legalized organ donation euthanasia can’t happen here in the US when the public has already been softened up for years by a mostly sympathetic media publicizing sad cases like Brittany Maynard’s and the relentless Compassion and Choices campaign to legalize physician-assisted suicide in every US state.
I can even envision a time when organ donation euthanasia could be presented to the public as merely “medically assisted death-with benefits.”