stats
globeinteractive.com: Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /globeandmail.com
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space


Search

space
  This site         Tips

  
space
  The Web Google
space
   space



space

  Where to Find It


Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business

  Sports

  Technology

space
Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store


Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business

  National

  International

  Sports

  Arts & Entertainment

  Editorials

  Columnists

   Headline Index

 Other Sections
  Appointments

  Births & Deaths

  Books

  Classifieds

  Comment

  Education

  Environment

  Facts & Arguments

  Focus

  Health

  Obituaries

  Real Estate

  Review

  Science

  Style

  Technology

  Travel

  Wheels

 Leisure
  Cartoon

  Crosswords

  Food & Dining

  Golf

  Horoscopes

  Movies

  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...

space

Services
   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site

 Newspaper
  Advertise

  Corrections

  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us

  Reprints

  Subscriptions

 Web Site
  Advertise

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


GiveLife.ca

    

PRINT EDITION
For anatomy labs, assisted-dying law adds scheduled arrivals
space
space
By KELLY GRANT
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Friday, April 12, 2019 – Page A1

In the normal course of his work as director of an anatomy lab, Bruce Wainman can't predict when a new body might arrive for his students to dissect.

Most registered body donors are years away from their own demise. They have no idea - and neither does Dr. Wainman, of course - when the end will come, or whether a traumatic death or infectious disease will disqualify them from an afterlife in the anatomy lab.

So it was a major departure the first time that Dr.

Wainman, director of the Education Program in Anatomy at McMaster University in Hamilton, received word before the patient had died that the body of a medical-aid-in-dying recipient would be rolling into his lab.

"We had zero direction on this," Dr. Wainman said. "There's absolutely nothing in law talking about the acquisition of bodies after medical assistance in dying."

In a paper published this month in the journal Anatomical Sciences Education, Dr. Wainman and a New Zealand colleague are now looking to fill that chasm in knowledge, one brought on by the fact Canada's nearly three-year-old federal assisted-dying law is something of a double-edged scalpel for anatomy programs.

The law opens up an important new source of good-quality cadavers, but it also raises delicate questions about how anatomy programs should deal with grievously ill patients and families who contact them about body donation while they are exploring the option of a physician-assisted death.

"We spend a lot of time telling people - and we certainly believe it - that donating your body for education and research purposes is a noble, altruistic and good act," Dr. Wainman said.

"We want to make sure that these vulnerable people who are trying to decide whether their life is worth living, that we're not providing them with some reason to end their life."

Canada's assisted-dying law does have checks in place to ensure the gravely sick are not unduly influenced: Two physicians have to independently approve patients for the procedure, which is restricted to people with a grievous and irremediable illness who are suffering intolerably and whose natural deaths are reasonably foreseeable.

But as long as patients meet the eligibility criteria, the choice is ultimately theirs - and Dr.

Wainman does not want such patients swayed by the possibility of bolstering medical research after they die.

McMaster has received six whole-body donations from people who underwent an assisted death since Canada's law took effect in June, 2016.

Some other universities report similar figures: The University of Alberta has accepted seven such donations; the University of Calgary has accepted five; and Queen's University in Kingston has accepted an estimated four or five, but can't say for certain because the school's anatomy program does not always know whether a death was doctorassisted.

At the University of Saskatchewan, one request from a medicalaid-in-dying recipient was reviewed and approved by the school's legal office, but in the end the potential donor decided against the bequeathal.

Others, including the University of Western Ontario in London and the University of Toronto, have accepted bodies from donors who ended their lives with the help of a physician, but those schools have not tracked the numbers.

Dr. Wainman found that next to nothing had been written about the frequency and ethics of body donation after medical-aidin-dying when he set out to explore the issue in his paper.

One of the trickiest things about drafting the article, he said, was acknowledging the fact that physician-assisted death is a new source of comparatively highquality bodies for teaching the next generation of doctors, surgeons, midwives, physiotherapists, chiropractors and other health professionals.

Such bodies tend not to be as emaciated as those of people who allow a terminal illness run its course.

Dr. Wainman and his co-author, Jon Cornwall, a medical ethicist from the University of Otago in New Zealand, are urging their global professional body, the International Federation of Associations of Anatomists, or IFAA, to draft official guidance before moral quandaries inevitably arise.

Andreas Winkelmann, an anatomy professor at the Brandenburg Medical School in Germany and chair of the IFAA's ethics and humanities committee, said it is paramount that anatomists are not seen to be benefiting from anyone dying of something other than a natural cause, which is why it would be unethical to accept the bodies of murder victims or executed prisoners.

"The difference with [medicalaid-in-dying] is obviously that people die according to their wishes, not against their wishes," Dr. Winkelmann said by e-mail. "I see the problem that anatomists may be perceived as benefiting from a procedure that is at least controversial in some communities and certainly not accepted practice around the world ... consent must remain entirely free."

Debbie Adkinson says she is confident that her younger sister, Sheila Adkinson, got exactly what she wanted when she choose to donate her body to McMaster after receiving an assisted death at the age of 56 last July.

A trainer of champion Airedale Terriers, Sheila was diagnosed in 2016 with cervical cancer that later spread to her lungs, liver and bones.

Once Sheila had decided to receive an assisted death at the Beamsville, Ont., country home that she and her sister shared with their five dogs, Debbie had less than a week to help Sheila fulfill her final wish for body donation.

"She wanted somebody to learn something," from her death, Debbie said.

Although the arrangements are in many ways similar to body donations after unexpected deaths, Maureen Letang, the bequeathal co-ordinator at McMaster, said medical-aid-in-dying cases have required some extra support for families.

"It's definitely surreal," she said. In one case, Ms. Letang called to speak to the husband of a woman who was scheduled to die less than two hours later. The wife picked up the phone herself.

In Sheila's case, her body has been used primarily to teach future vascular surgeons how to repair blood vessels, Dr. Wainman said.

When students have learned all they can from Sheila's body, Debbie will receive a call from the university asking her what she would like to do with her sister's remains.

Debbie has already decided that she will find a place on her acreage in Beamsville, which is near Niagara Falls, to inter Sheila's ashes alongside those of the beloved dogs that predeceased her.

"Some place there, under a tree, I will bury them all."


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Heather_Mallick Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail
 

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement
space

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.

Advertisement

7-Day Site Search
    

Breaking News



Today's Weather


Inside

Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes


Editorial
Where Manley is going with his first budget




space

Columnists



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.

 National


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
space
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
space
Margaret Wente arrow
Counterpoint
space
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game
space
 Business


Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
space
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
space
Mathew Ingram arrow
space
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
space
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
space
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
space
Andrew Willis arrow
Streetwise
space
 Sports


Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
space
Eric Duhatschek arrow
space
Allan Maki arrow
space
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
space
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
Golf
space
 The Arts


John Doyle arrow
Television
space
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
space
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
space
Johanna Schneller arrow
Moviegoer
space
 Comment


Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
space
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
space
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
space
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
space
Paul Knox arrow
Worldbeat
space
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
space
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
space
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
space
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
space
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
space
William Thorsell arrow
space





Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page