2017-86, due care criteria complied with

Straightforward notification, euthanasia in combination with organ donation, neurological disorder.

The patient, a woman in her fifties, was diagnosed two years before her death with motor neurone disease (a disease that leads to the death of nerve cells in the spinal cord and in part of the brain). Her condition was incurable. She could only be treated palliatively (care aimed at improving the patient’s quality of life).

The patient’s suffering consisted of the increasing deterioration in her situation. She was experiencing severe loss of function. She could no longer eat, nor could she communicate clearly. The patient, who had always been independent, active and communicative, was entirely dependent on others and hardly able to do anything for herself. She knew there was no prospect of improvement in her situation and that the only prognosis was deterioration. She experienced her suffering as unbearable.

The physician was satisfied that this suffering was unbearable to her and with no prospect of improvement according to prevailing medical opinion. The physician concluded that the request was voluntary and well considered. He also consulted an independent (SCEN) physician, who concluded that the due care criteria had been complied with.

The patient wanted to donate her organs. After consultation, she was placed under sedation at home and a tube was inserted into her windpipe so she could be given oxygen. She was then taken to hospital, where euthanasia was performed.

The committee found that the physician had acted in accordance with the due care criteria.