Personalism and Boosting Organ ResERVOirs: A Consideration of Euthanasia by Removal of Vital Organs in the Canadian Context

Article Summary by Jamie Grunwald

Canada’s decriminalisation of assisted death has elicited significant ethical implications for the use of assisted death in healthcare contexts. Euthanasia by removal of vital organs (ERVO) is a theoretical extension of medically assisted death with an increased plausibility of implementation in light of the rapid expansion of assisted death eligibility laws and criteria in Canada. ERVO entails removing organs from a living patient under general anaesthesia as the mechanism of death. While ERVO is intended to maximise the viability of organs procured from the euthanised patient for donation to recipients, ending the lives of patient donors in this manner solely to benefit ill or dying recipient patients merits further ethical consideration. Specifically, the paper explores the application of personalist bioethics in determining whether the means of procuring organs through assisted death justifies the end of improving the lives of those who would benefit from receiving them. Further, by discussing the medical, social and ethical implications of ERVO, I explicate a broader philosophical understanding of the influences of legalising assisted death on human dignity and conscience.


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Read the full article on the Medical Humanities journal website.


Jamie Grunwald completed her medical degree at the University of Alberta (Canada) and graduated with a certificate of distinction for her work with her university’s Arts and Humanities in Health and Medicine program. She is now pursuing family medicine specialty training through the University of Saskatchewan. As aligns with her passion for rural and remote medicine, her interests in bioethics center around advocating for meaningful care for vulnerable patients and communities. 

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