Typically, about 1,600 Canadians are on the waiting list for organ and tissue transplants, according to Trillium Gift for Life Network, the organization that oversees the list. The number doesn’t change much from year to year, or at least, it didn’t until last year.
Canada decriminalized medically assisted suicide, referred to as MAiD, in 2016. Through Trillium, Ontario became the first jurisdiction in the world to proactively reach out to those who had been approved for assisted death to discuss donation. They even made it a law. When a death is imminent, whether through a hospital or MAiD, Trillium must be notified.
Over the course of the first 11 months of the year, MAiD patients in the province accounted for 18 organ and 95 tissue donors, a 14 per cent increase over 2018 and a 109 per cent increase over 2017.
Ronnie Gavsie, Trillium’s chief executive officer, said:
“The decision to pursue MAiD is totally separate from the decision to donate organs, but we do want patients to have their last will carried out.”
Mixing the two brings up a host of questions and many practical concerns. Only those who die in hospitals can donate, even as many MAiD patients choose to die at home. And those with cancer or other diseases can’t donate. Many jurisdictions that allow medically-assisted suicide don’t allow such patients to donate so that no moral lines are crossed.