Organ donation by an individual with a psychiatric diagnosis presents a number of ethical issues. This paper notes that particular attention must be paid to mental competence, consent, and guardianship, when making any decision about organ donation in such individuals.
Legislation in all provinces in Canada outlines conditions for organ transplantation and provides a definition of mental competency. Under the Human Tissue Gift Act of Alberta, mental competency is defined as the ability to comprehend the subject matter pertaining to the decision of organ transplantation and the ability to understand the consequences of such a decision. (1) Little has been written concerning persons with a psychiatric illness, who want to donate an organ for transplantation, although there has been some discussion concerning potential donors and organ procurement and such important factors as consent, abuse (moral), and coercion. (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) When a third party asks a psychiatric patient under their care to donate an organ, a treatment team faces a number of difficult decisions.
In the case that follows, a man diagnosed with schizophrenia was asked by his family to donate a kidney to another …