Transplants and assisted dying: A family’s story

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Times Colonist | March 27, 2016

With a committee sitting in Ottawa for the purpose of drafting a framework upon which physician-assisted death legislation will be enacted, the recent letters on the subject and the opinion piece of March 19, it seems appropriate to relate our recent experience to the public.

It is not our intention to disparage the medical staff at hospice, as we recognize they were only doing their job by following existing protocol.

On Tuesday, March 15, we had to say goodbye to our 44-year-old daughter, Kirsten, after more than four days in Victoria Hospice under palliative care. Her journey was not a peaceful one — not for her and definitely not for her loved ones who watched over her from the morning of March 8 when, unresponsive, she was rushed to emergency at Royal Jubilee Hospital.

It was evident from the CAT scan that there was no way back for Kirsten. She had suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage that had caused irreversible damage to her brain; only the most primitive part was still viable. It maintained her cardiopulmonary system so her vital organs continued to function.

The neurosurgeon advised us that there was nothing positive to be achieved through surgery, only the probability of barely existing, totally reliant on others in a care facility. Palliative care was deemed the only real option until Kirsten’s daughter asked if it would be possible to fulfil one of her mother’s longstanding wishes — to donate her organs should anything untoward happen to her.

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