Researchers say 64 people in Quebec donated their organs after receiving medical assistance in dying (MAID) between 2018 and the end of 2022.
They found donations from this group rose to comprise 14 per cent of all gifted organs in the final year of the study.
Researchers analyzed data on all MAID recipients referred to Transplant Quebec for possible organ donation over the five years and found the number of donors climbed from eight in 2018 to 24 in 2022.
Lead author Dr. Matthew Weiss, medical director at Transplant Quebec, says many of the 245 people referred for donation withdrew from the process over concerns about some aspect of it, but there’s no detailed data about their reasons.
He says some may have decided not to donate after learning they would be required to receive MAID medications in hospital instead of at home, so that organs could be retrieved quickly after their heart stopped.
Dr. Pierre Marcelet, an expert in organ transplants, says people who are receiving MAID and who want to donate take it to heart.
“In general, it’s so important to them that they’re even prepared to change their end of life process to be able to donate their organs,” he told Radio-Canada.
Weiss says it’s not known how many MAID providers offered patients a chance to donate their organs, and he’d like standardized reporting across Canada to understand outcomes.
The study involving donation of livers, kidneys and lungs was published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The only other countries where organ donations after medical assistance in dying are legal are Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.