A research team from the University of Maryland is moving forward with modified drone testing, hoping to show that donated organs can be transported safely, and more quickly, between donor and recipient. (Nov. 21) AP
Organ donation is a selfless gift to those on transplant wait lists. But what if we euthanized patients by harvesting their organs?
How should society respond to the increasingly long list of people waiting for organs on a transplant list? You’ve no doubt heard of “black market” organs in foreign countries, but are there other options that should be off the table?
If you were on a transplant list, would it matter to you if the organ was obtained from a living person who died because of the donation procedure itself? What if she had volunteered?
Your thoughts on this topic have implications beyond the issue of transplantation.
As the former co-director of Vanderbilt University’s lung transplant program and a practicing intensive care unit physician, I see organ donation an selfless gift to those approaching death on transplant wait lists.
However, I’m wrestling with the emerging collision between the worlds of transplantation and euthanasia.
Cause of death: organ donation?
At international medical conferences in 2018 and 2019, I listened as hundreds of transplant and critical care physicians discussed “donation after death.” This refers to the rapidly expanding scenario in Canada and some Western European countries whereby a person dies by euthanasia, with a legalized lethal injection that she or he requested, and the body is then operated on to retrieve organs for donation.
At each meeting, the conversation unexpectedly shifted to an emerging question of
“death by donation” — in other words, ending a people’s lives with their informed consent by taking them to the operating room and, under general anesthesia, opening their chest and abdomen surgically while they are still alive to remove vital organs for transplantation into other people.