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Catholic World News

Britain’s health service considers ‘elective ventilation’ for sake of organ donation

July 31, 2012

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service is considering proposals to increase the number of organs available for donation, including presumed consent for organ donation and the ability of potential organ donors to choose “elective ventilation.”

Elective ventilation involves “starting ventilation once it is recognized that the patient is close to death, with the specific intention of facilitating organ donation,” The Telegraph reports. A National Health Service survey describes elective ventilation as “intubation and ventilation of a gravely ill patient whose death is inevitable in order to promote donation after brainstem death.”

The Telegraph notes that the practice is accepted in Spain and the United States.

Catholic ethicists have debated for decades whether a determination of “brain death” is a legitimate scientific criterion or a legal fiction that allows for the extraction of organs from persons who are truly alive.


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  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Jul. 31, 2012 7:37 PM ET USA

    Our medical directives specify that we will donate under the appropriate conditions only NONVITAL organs (corneas, one kidney, etc). We know there is very little difference between what they do to organ donors prior to real death and the first two drugs in the so-called "triple cocktail" given to inmates for lethal injection.