Doctor Stops Just Short of Saying Euthanize Patients for Their Organs

International   |   Alex Schadenberg   |   Dec 15, 2014   |   5:18PM   |   Washington, DC

For the past few years doctors in Belgium have linked organ donation to euthanasia. Recently the Dutch Minister of Public Health, Edith Schippers proposed guidelines for euthanasia/organ donation.

Yesterday, published an interview with ethicist, David Shaw, concerning organ donation / assisted suicide. Shaw specialises in the ethics of organ donation and transplantation in the Institute for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Basel. He is also a member of Britain’s Donation Ethics Committee, which advises the Department of Health on organ policy.

euthanasia6In the interview, Shaw questions why Switzerland doesn’t have a national donor registry. Shaw believes that donor cards alone aren’t enough. He comments on assisted suicide:

… I’m not saying that we should be killing people to take their organs. But Switzerland is one of the few countries in the world where several hundred people use assisted suicide every year. This is a situation where you have people who want to die, you know when they’re going to die, and many of them are probably registered organ donors. So it’s also more respectful to the people to let them do this final kind of parting gift to humanity.

While rejecting that some people may die by assisted suicide because they feel like a burden on others, Shaw acknowledged that most Swiss physicians, including those involved with transplants, want nothing to do with assisted suicide, and extending organ donation to assisted suicide deaths may cause a problem.

Click here to sign up for daily pro-life news alerts from

in Switzerland, the general attitude of hospitals and doctors in Swiss hospitals is they don’t really want to be involved in it. And that attitude might extend to people working in transplantation.

Shaw refers to the concept of organ donation / assisted suicide as a “parting gift to humanity.”

The concept of organ donation / assisted suicide is another way of promoting assisted suicide as a “social good.” Coupling organ donation with euthanasia or assisted suicide creates greater pressure to die rather than live, especially for people with disabilities or chronic conditions whose organs are not compromised by disease. Note: Alex Schadenberg is the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and you can read his blog here.