Monday, February 27, 2023

Canadian Blood Services promotes documentary linking organ donation to euthanasia.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Canadian Blood services are promoting a documentary film that was created by Nova Scotia Health Services and the Canadian Blood Services to promote organ donation after euthanasia.

In the past Organ and Tissue donation services could claim that organ donation after euthanasia was only an option. Now that the documentary film - Her Last Project - is being promoted, clearly organ donation after euthanasia is being viewed as more than just an option.

Her Last Project is a documentary film about the (MAiD) euthanasia death of Halifax NS doctor, Shelly Sarwal, who was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy. Sarwal was the first person in Nova Scotia to die by euthanasia with the intention of donating her organs.

The website connected to the Canadian Blood Services, that is promoting the film, states that approximately 20% of the euthanasia deaths could be eligible for organ donation.

The 2022 Ontario euthanasia statistics indicated that there were 3934 reported Ontario euthanasia deaths with 20 of those deaths followed by organ donation. The Canadian Blood Services is promoting the film - Her Last Project - in order to increase the rate of organ donation after euthanasia.

Linking euthanasia to organ donation is an ethical concern because euthanasia becomes promoted as a "good act" when it leads to organ donation.

Another concern with linking euthanasia to organ donation is because it leads to "ethics" journals debating the concept of euthanasia by organ donation. "Ethicists" are asking - why first kill the person by euthanasia and then remove the organs for donation when it is easier and more effective to remove the organs from a person who has consented to euthanasia. 

The dead donor rule is being debated. The Uniform Determination of Death Act is currently being revised to make it easier to declare a person brain dead for organ donation and a new organ donation procedure, known as normothermic regional perfusion (NRP) appears to violate the dead donor rule.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition does not oppose organ donation but we are concerned that organ donation after euthanasia leads to euthanasia becoming a "good" act and it leads to euthanasia by organ donation.


Dr. Heidi Klessig said...

Thanks for publishing this. I reviewed one of the linked policy documents, and found this:

“Living donation prior to death from patients considering MAiD or withdrawal of life-sustaining measures (WLSM) should be neither offered nor encouraged.”

Apparently the death of the donor is still the highest priority. Allowing the patient to give an organ and remain alive afterwards to have an ongoing relationship with the recipient is not to be offered or encouraged.

Dr. Heidi Klessig said...

The fact that MAiD donors are being actively dissuaded from becoming living organ donors (donating in such a way that both donor and recipient remain alive after the procedure) is truly telling. A living donation is a noble act of self-sacrifice on behalf of another person. Donating organs after or as part of a euthanasia plan amounts to giving away something you don’t want anymore anyway, and is about as laudable as giving up liver for Lent. Pun intended.