Ottawa, Canada, Jan 7, 2020 / 10:00 am
Increasing numbers of people killed by euthanasia are supplying a “boon” for organ transplant surgeries in Canada, according to an Ottawa newspaper. But politicians and ethicists told CNA the practice was “rather horrifying” and raises questions of “coercion.”
A Jan. 6 article titled “Medically assisted deaths prove a growing boon to organ donation in Ontario” in the Ottawa Citizen, explained that while the number of people in need of a transplant in Ontario has remained relatively static, fewer and fewer people are registering in advance as donors, with assisted deaths providing a positive answer.
“This relatively new source of organs and tissues is significant in that Ontario’s waiting list for organs typically hovers around 1,600 without any great headway made to eliminate that number,” Bruce Deachman reported.
From January until November of 2019, there were 18 organ and 95 tissue donations from patients who died by euthanasia. These numbers, which do not include the month of December, represent an increase of 14% over all of 2018, and 109% compared to all of 2017.
According to the Trillium Gift of Life Network, which runs organ and tissue donation in the province of Ontario, these donations were 5% of the province’s overall number of organ and tissue donations. This was more than double the percentage of euthanasia-related donations in 2017.
“Medical assistance in dying,” as it is legally referred to in the country, has been legal in Canada since 2016. Canadians who have a “grievous and irremediable medical condition” are able to elect to end their lives. This is defined as a “serious and incurable illness, disease or disability” that results in “an advanced state of irreversible decline in capability,” and causes “enduring physical or psychological suffering that is intolerable” and cannot be treated in an “acceptable” manner.
A person’s death has to become “reasonably foreseeable” in order to be approved for euthanasia, but their condition does not necessarily have to be considered terminal.
In Ontario, Trillium “proactively” solicits patients to discuss organ donation once they have elected to be killed. It is provincial law that Trillium be made aware once a person has been approved to end their life.