Shock study: Organs harvested from euthanized patients make better transplants
LEUVEN, Belgium, June 16, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A disturbing study conducted by Belgian doctors and reported on in the medical journal Applied Cardiopulmonary Pathology involved killing patients via euthanasia in a room next to the hospital’s operating theater, and then wheeling them next door and harvesting their organs immediately after being pronounced dead. The study found that lungs from those who die by euthanasia are more suitable for transplant surgery than lungs taken from accident victims.
Dirk Van Raemdonck from the Department of Thoracic Surgery at the University Hospital Gasthuisberg, and the leader of the study titled “Initial Experience With Transplantation of Lungs Recovered From Donors After Euthanasia,” compared the results of lung transplants from donors who died from trauma, typically serious head injuries, to the use of lungs from donors after euthanasia in the years 2007 to 2009.
According to the report, three of four patients who received lungs from euthanized patients were released from hospital after 33 days “with excellent post-transplant graft function and good early recipient outcome,” while “one recipient died in the ICU from a problem unrelated to the graft.”
The report notes, “All donors expressed their wish for organ donation once their request for euthanasia was granted according to Belgian legislation. All donors suffered from an unbearable non-malignant disorder.”
The report says the euthanized donors included one person with an “unbearable mental disorder,” while the other three suffered from “a debilitating benign disease such as a neurological or muscular disorder.”
The procedure involved admitting the donors to hospital a few hours before the planned euthanasia procedure. They were killed in a room next door to the operating theater. Their lungs were removed immediately after they were pronounced dead.
“A central venous line was placed in a room adjacent to the operating room,” said Dr. Van Raemdonck in the report.
“Donors were heparinised (injected with the anticoagulant heparin) immediately before a cocktail of drugs was given by the treating physician who agreed to perform the euthanasia.
“The patient was announced dead on cardiorespiratory criteria by three independent physicians as required by Belgian legislation for every organ donor.
“The deceased was then rapidly transferred, installed on the operating table, and intubated.”
The report stated euthanized donors accounted for 23.5% of all cardiac death lung donors in Belgium.
Dr. Peter Saunders of Care Not Killing, a UK-based alliance of disability and human rights organizations, healthcare and palliative care groups, and faith-based organizations opposed to euthanasia, said he was shocked by the casual indifference of the report.
“I was amazed at how nonchalantly the issue was dealt with as if killing patients and then harvesting their organs was the most natural thing in the world,” he was quoted to say by The Telegraph.
“The matter of fact way the retrieval process is described in the paper is particularly chilling and shows the degree of collaboration that is necessary between the euthanasia team and the transplant surgeons – prep them for theatre next to the operating room, then kill them and wheel them in for organ retrieval. All in a day’s work in Brave New Belgium.
“Given that half of all euthanasia cases in Belgium are involuntary it must be only a matter of time before the organs are taken from patients who are euthanised without their consent.”
“Doctors there now do things that most doctors in other countries would find absolutely horrific,” Dr. Saunders pointed out.
Ana Iltis, director of the Center for Bioethics Health and Society at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, remarked to Fox News, “Once you accept that physicians are going to kill patients, it seems logical that they would harvest those organs for transplantation. People tend to respond with an ‘Ick,’ but that response should be about euthanasia.”
Iltis referred to a 2010 Canadian Medical Association (CMA) report that revealed the extent of euthanasia without explicit patient request that takes place in Belgium. The CMA found that 20 percent of Belgian nurses interviewed by researchers had been involved in the euthanasia of a patient, but also reported that that nearly half of these - 120 of 248 - admitted to participating in “terminations without request or consent.”
“You can imagine cases - maybe the patient’s family requested it - but the law as I understand it requires an explicit patient request,” Iltis said.
Alex Schadenberg, director of Canada’s Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told LifeSiteNews that euthanasia and assisted suicide are being sold to society as a panacea to end all suffering, and now are being promoted as an altruistic way of benefitting others with our deaths.
“People will be considered selfish and ostracized - for not dying by euthanasia or assisted suicide because they will be costing society money by continuing their illness until a natural death, - or because they will be denying fresh, healthy organs for others in need,” Schadenberg observed.
“The organs are healthy because the person who donates the organs is often not terminal, but rather in fear of living through a terminal condition. We will continue to be told that this is about the freedom to choose. But whose choice is it? Choice is the illusion; this is about imposing death,” Schadenberg stated.
An abstract of the study “Initial Experience With Transplantation of Lungs Recovered From Donors After Euthanasia” is available here.