Doctors refuse man’s request to have organs donated because he was conscious just before death

I am reposting this National Post article by Tom Blackwell.

As you read the article, do you agree with the doctors’ refusal to allow the dying man’s request to donate his organs? Did the ethical decision-making process arrive at the correct conclusion?

Doctors refuse man’s request to have organs donated because he was conscious just before death

The patient lying in a Quebec hospital had been left so completely paralyzed by a devastating accident, only a mechanical ventilator kept him breathing, and alive.

He was mentally sound, however, able to communicate and had a clear request for medical staff: he wanted life support turned off. And he wanted to donate his organs for transplant, helping offset the severe shortage nationwide.

But in a case that has raised novel ethical questions and roiled the province’s transplant world, the man died without his last request being honoured. Despite the desperate need for them, his organs were never harvested, an ethicist familiar with the incident has revealed.

Surgeons were uneasy about procuring organs from someone who was not only alive a few minutes earlier, but aware and communicative, says Julie Allard, who raised the issue at a recent conference of the Canadian Bioethics Society.

The man was in a unique position to decide his own fate, and doctors were fearful that starting the transplant process could put undue pressure on him to choose death, said the University of Montreal doctoral student and consultant to Transplant Quebec.

Until nine years ago in Canada, the scenario could not even have arisen, as organs were taken only from people declared brain-dead.

“There were so many questions,” Allard said about the discussion triggered by the case.

To read more click here.


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