Organ donation and euthanasia

Bernard Drainville wants Quebec to adopt "presumed consent" for organ donation. At first glance, this seems a reasonable policy to increase the number of organs available for people in need. But this policy is fraught with risks. I am not against organ donation, far from it! I am myself an organ donor and two members of my immediate family have benefited from organ donation. This is an issue that I know well.

However, when we think of organ donation with "presumed consent" in an environment where euthanasia is legal, the risks increase dramatically. In Belgium, 23.5% of lung transplants come from donors that were euthanized. Moreover, in that same country, the Belgian Society of Intensive Medicine argues that involuntary euthanasia is not only an acceptable form of treatment, but a desirable one! This situation arose a dozen years after the legalization of euthanasia in Belgium. It is worrying for the future of organ donation in Quebec.

In addition, Mr. Drainville suggests the creation of a National Assembly Committee holding hearings in several cities, such as the Committee on Dying with Dignity. He states that "this is a sensitive topic that raises important ethical issues." This is true. But the report of the Committee on Dying with Dignity does not reflect the evidence heard during the 29 days of public hearings. Experts and citizens who participated in the Committee were ignored : 60% of the briefs were against euthanasia. Only 2% of the briefs were in favour of assisted suicide. Despite this, the report recommended the legalization of euthanasia in Quebec. There is no reason to expect that a potential committee on the issue of organ donation would behave differently.

We must find a solution to the chronic problems of lack of organs and long waiting lists for people who need organs. But we should not create an environment where people are persuaded to choose euthanasia because their organs could help someone else.