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Dividing line between organ donation and euthanasia in a combined procedure
  1. Jan Bollen1,
  2. Kris Vissers1,
  3. Walther van Mook2
  1. 1 Department of Anesthesiology, Pain and Palliative Medicine, Radboudumc Medical Center Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands
  2. 2 Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Jan Bollen, Anesthesiology, Radboudumc, 6525 GA Nijmegen, Netherlands; jan{at}


In this article, we want to reply to the recent article by Buturovic, to be able to correct some statements and allegations about this combined procedure. Organ donation after euthanasia is an extremely difficult procedure from an ethical point of view. On the one hand, we see a suffering patient who wants to die but who also wants to make an altruistic effort to donate his organs. On the other hand, we visualise a patient in need of an organ but who is wary of the fact that someone else needs to die in order to potentially receive a transplant organ. Healthcare professionals seem to walk a tightrope when balancing between the interests of the patients at these two extremes: while facilitating the dying patient’s last wish on the one hand and abiding by all regulations regarding donation and transplantation on the other. Yet, these physicians, nurses and transplant coordinators do their utmost best to keep a strict line between euthanasia and organ donation, to avoid any external pressure on the patient, and to respect his autonomy. They really make an utmost attempt to make the process bearable for the donating patient. However, undeniably the patient who is about to undergo organ donation after euthanasia is nevertheless confronted with dozens of feelings and thoughts. However, this does not imply that procedural safeguards are failing to disentangle organ donation from euthanasia.

  • care of the dying patient
  • euthanasia
  • transplantation
  • donation/procurement of organs/tissues
  • ethics

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  • Twitter @jantjebollen

  • Contributors JB, KV and WvM contributed equally to this manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

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