A Canadian newspaper recently touted that one of the benefits of physician-assisted suicide is the increasing number of organs that are made available for people who need a transplant to survive. But justifying the killing of one person to extend the life of another raises concerns for one bioethicist who says the practice disregards the value of the donor.
Amid increasing acceptance and legalization of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide — often euphemistically referred to as medical aid in dying (MAiD) or death with dignity — the Ottawa Citizen reported that Ontarians who choose to end their lives through such means are also saving or improving the lives of others by including tissue and organ donation in their final wishes.
“Every ‘new’ effort to increase organ supply seems to consider recipient need and not the dignity of the donor, said Dr. Greg Rutecki, an emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic Internal Medicine program and emeritus fellow at the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, told The Christian Post.
“Prior to this innovation, that is, using persons who have opted for death-hastening measures, the last attempt was utilizing persons declared dead by cardiac criteria, not brain death,” Rutecki said, adding that it’s crucial people understand that two human beings are involved in a transplant: the donor and the recipient.
A term used when the dying process is manipulated to get healthier organs for the recipient, possibly at the risk of the donor’s health and well-being, is called “titration of death.”
“The initial period was comprised of how long after cessation of heart beat a person was dead and not dying. As things progressed, the organs from these donors were compromised by ischemia (decreased blood supply) and in many instances were not useable. But in this context, recipient need was considered a priority in contrast to donor dignity,” Rutecki said.
“The ethical concern is that the dying process of the donor will be compromised in favor of a good organ, making the recipient more important than the donor. Rather than a dying experience with family and friends. The transition becomes a medical-technological spectacle, in essence focusing on a recipient and his/her organs rather than a human being who is dying.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brandon Showalter