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ethics

Life support for the dying could solve organ shortage

Published tisdag 19 oktober 2010 kl 11.22
Swedish doctors hope to be allowed to extend life support for dying patients, in order to save their organs for transplant.

A shortage of transplant organs has led Swedish doctors to call for the nation's donor laws to be reviewed. The ethics delegation of the Swedish medical society wants physicians to be allowed to keep dying patients on life support in order to make more organs available for transplant.

The practice is controversial in cases where doctors would end a patient's treatment, were it not for the potential to harvest their organs, reports newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

The medical society wants to increase the possibility for patients who agree beforehand to donate their organs.

"Today, legislation around this area is very unclear – there's a vacuum in the laws that must be regulated," says Kristina Söderlind-Rutberg, an intensive care physician and in charge of organ donations in the southeast. She added, "Opportunites are lost because we don't know how we should interpret the laws."

Sweden's health minister, Göran Hägglund, is against reviewing the law. According to his press secretary, Hägglund believes medical treatment should be directed towards the patient's own needs, not the needs of others.

Swedish hospitals are facing record demand for organ transplants, reports Svenska Dagbladet.

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