Potential number of organ donors after euthanasia in Belgium

April 11, 2017, The JAMA Network Journals

An estimated 10 percent of all patients undergoing euthanasia in Belgium could potentially donate at least one organ, according to a study published by JAMA.

The practice of after is controversial and currently only allowed in Belgium and the Netherlands. It requires to undergo euthanasia in the hospital, and organ donation is performed after circulatory death. Donation after euthanasia could potentially help ease the shortage of organs for transplantation. It is unknown how many of these patients would be medically suitable to donate organs. Jan Bollen, L.L.M., M.D., of Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, the Netherlands, and colleagues calculated the number of potential organ donors among persons undergoing euthanasia by excluding patients because of certain criteria (age, ).

In 2015, 2,023 patients underwent euthanasia in Belgium and 1,288 people were on the Belgian organ transplantation waiting list. The researchers found that an estimated maximum of 10 percent of all patients undergoing euthanasia could potentially donate at least one organ, with 684 organs potentially available for donation. In 2015, 260 deceased were donated; if 400 kidneys were donated by patients undergoing euthanasia, the potential number of kidneys available for donation could more than double.

The authors note that medical suitability only implies that a patient is a possible organ donor. "Whether the patient is also willing to donate, and is willing to die in hospital, must be carefully ascertained."

"Even if only a small percentage of the patients undergoing euthanasia donated an organ, donation after euthanasia could potentially help reduce the waitlists for organ donation. Nevertheless, it is essential that the primary goal of organ donation after euthanasia remains the same as for any patient donating an organ—to enable patients to carry out their last will of donating organs to help other people, after their own death."

Explore further: Clinical manual addresses how to approach organ donation after euthanasia

More information: JAMA (2017). DOI: 10.1001/jama.2017.0729

Related Stories

Clinical manual addresses how to approach organ donation after euthanasia

February 23, 2016
A new practical manual addresses the controversial topic of organ donation after euthanasia, providing guidance to clinicians whose patients have requested euthanasia and the desire to offer their organs to others in need. ...

How Spain achieved a remarkably high rate of deceased organ donation

January 9, 2017
Spain is leading the world in deceased organ donation. A new article published in the American Journal of Transplantation contains important information that can help other countries learn from the success of the Spanish ...

Transplant expert dispels organ donation misconceptions

April 21, 2014
(HealthDay)—Misconceptions prevent many people from agreeing to donate their organs and potentially save a life, according to a transplant expert.

Belgian euthanasia cases hit record high

January 27, 2016
Belgium carried out more than 2,000 mercy killings last year, the most since euthanasia was controversially legalised in 2002, the government said Wednesday.

Physicians have higher rate of organ donation registration than general public

July 15, 2014
A study that included about 15,000 physicians found that they were more likely to be registered as an organ donor compared to the general public, according to a study in the July 16 issue of JAMA.

Families should not be allowed to veto dead relatives' organ donation wishes

August 7, 2012
It has recently been suggested that patients should be kept alive using elective ventilation to facilitate the harvesting of organs for donation. But David Shaw, Honorary Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen believes there ...

Recommended for you

Tongue-in-cheek Nobels honor nutritional analysis of cannibalism, roller-coaster kidney stones treatment

September 14, 2018
A nutritional analysis of cannibalism and treating kidney stones on roller-coasters were research projects honored by tongue-in-cheek awards at Harvard University Thursday, designed to make you laugh first, and think later.

Pediatric robot patient offers new level of realism for doctors in training

September 10, 2018
A team of researchers and engineers at Gaumard Scientific has unveiled a new robot that raises the bar on medical training devices. The robot, called HAL, has been made to look like a five-year-old male patient and offers ...

Why men say they've had more lifetime sexual partners than women

July 25, 2018
The disparity between the number of sexual partners reported by men and women can largely be explained by a tendency among men to report extreme numbers of partners, and to estimate rather than count their lifetime total, ...

Censors jump into action as China's latest vaccine scandal ignites

July 22, 2018
Chinese censors on Sunday deleted articles and postings about the vaccine industry as an online outcry over the country's latest vaccine scandal intensified.

Revenge of a forgotten medical 'genius'

June 30, 2018
It's not an uncommon fate for a pioneering scientist: languishing unrecognised in his time before dying in obscurity. But as his 200th birthday approaches, the life-saving work of a Hungarian obstetrician is finally getting ...

Yes, you can put too much chlorine in a pool

June 2, 2018
(HealthDay)—Before you take a dip in the pool this summer, be sure there's not too much chlorine in the water.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.