Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Procedural safeguards cannot disentangle MAiD from organ donation decisions
  1. Zeljka Buturovic
  1. Institut društvenih nauka, Beograd, Serbia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Zeljka Buturovic, Institut drustvenih nauka, 11000 Beograd, Serbia; zbuturovic{at}


In the past, a vast majority of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) patients were elderly patients with cancer who are not suitable for organ donation, making organ donation from such patients a rare event. However, more expansive criteria for MAiD combined with an increased participation of MAiD patients in organ donation is likely to drastically increase the pool of MAiD patients who can serve as organ donors. Previous discussions of ethical issues arising from these trends have not fully addressed difficulties involved in separating decision to end one’s life from the one to donate one’s organs. However, realities of organ donation logistics and human decision making suggest that this separation can be extraordinary difficult. The need to maximise quality of donated organs complicates dying experience of the donor and is likely in tension with the dying experience the patient envisioned when first considering MAiD. Furthermore, the idea that patients will think about MAiD first, and only when firmly decided to end their life, consider organ donation, runs contrary to organ donation policies in some countries as well as end of life and everyday decision making. This opens the door for organ donation to serve as an incentive in MAiD decisions. Dispensing with the simplistic assumption that organ donation can never be a factor in MAiD decisions is, therefore, essential first step to properly addressing ethical issues at hand.

  • euthanasia
  • transplantation
  • donation/procurement of organs/tissues
  • death
  • decision-making

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors ZB is the sole author of this work.

  • Funding This study was funded by Ministarstvo Prosvete, Nauke i Tehnološkog razvoja, grant no. 47010.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Other content recommended for you