Rebecca Millette

News

Belgian doctors harvesting organs from disabled euthanasia donors

Rebecca Millette

BELGIUM, January 26, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Belgian doctors are not only harvesting organs from disabled euthanasia donors, but are publicly advocating the practice and setting down guidelines for it.

Doctors Dirk Ysebaert, Dirk Van Raemdonck, and Michel Meurisse, of the University Hospitals Of Antwerp, Leuven, and Liège, presented a PowerPoint presentation at a conference organized by the Belgian Royal Medical Academy in December, in which they advocate “Organ Donation After Euthanasia.”

Bioethics writer and lawyer, Wesley J. Smith, who drew attention to the presentation in his First Things blog “Secondhand Smoke,” said he has been expecting this “organ harvesting shoe to drop” for years. 

From mercy killing of the terminally ill, it is merely “a hop, skip and a jump to killing people who don’t have a good ‘quality’ of life, perhaps with the prospect of organ harvesting thrown in as a plum to society,” said Smith. 

In May, Smith brought to light an article in the journal Bioethics advocating organ transplant after euthanasia.  He said it was perhaps the first time the question of “organ donation euthanasia” was not simply asked, but advocated. 

He also previously reported the story of a woman in Belgium whose request for euthanasia and subsequent organ donation had been “accommodated.”  “The woman in question,” wrote Smith, “was not terminally ill, but in a “locked-in” state, that is, fully conscious and completely paralyzed.  She wanted to die – a desire accommodated by her doctors.” 

“I can think of few more dangerous activities then to convince people with disabilities – and society – that their deaths have greater value than their lives.  That pebble with which I was concerned has grown into a massive boulder that is generating tidal waves of harm,” said Smith of the recent public presentation by the Belgian doctors.

The December PowerPoint presentation lays out guidelines for organ donation in cases of euthanasia, saying that there must be a “strict separation” between the euthanasia request, the euthanasia procedure, and the organ procurement. 

The procedure must be documented with informed consent from the donor and relatives, write the doctors, and the euthanasia should be performed by a neurologist/psychiatrist and two doctors.  Organs may only be retrieved after a clinical diagnosis of death by three physicians.  Finally, physician and nursing staff should participate only on a voluntary basis.

Charts in presentation say that of the 705 people who died through euthanasia (officially) in 2008, 20% were people suffering from neuromuscular disorders, whose organs are of relatively high quality for transplanting to others.

The presentation concludes by asserting the potential of the procedure, that “organ donation after euthanasia is feasible” and a “strong patient’s wish to donate cannot be denied.”

To view the entire PowerPoint presentation click here.

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