Does Organ Harvesting After Assisted Suicide Provide Incentive for Patients to End Their Lives Prematurely?


Just as organs harvested after a fatal drug overdose can often be safely transplanted, so may livers taken from individuals undergoing physician-assisted suicide, Belgian researchers reported in a JAMA research letter.

In a retrospective single-center review, Diethard Monbaliu, MD, PhD, of University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium, and colleagues found the following 3-year outcomes for graft and patients’ overall survival, respectively, by type of donor death:

  • Brain death 80.2%, 86.1%
  • Circulatory death 82%, 84.6%
  • “Euthanasia” 90.9%, 90.9%

“These data support the notion that within a very strict ethicolegal and logistic framework, donation after euthanasia may represent a valuable source of donor organs,” Monbaliu and associates wrote.

But bioethicist Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, of New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City…cited an ethical concern: “People would worry that they were providing an incentive for donors to end their life by saving someone else’s life and taking away real choice about the decision.”

Read full article at Medpage Today…

Scroll to Top