Most people become organ donors because the organs will be removed after they have died and shared with someone who needs the healthy organs.

A case study published in the American Journal of Case Reports titled: Pronounced dead twice: What should an attending physician do in between? concerns a homicide death of a 39-year-old woman that was caused by Acute Fentanyl toxicity due to a Fentanyl injection in the hospital.

The woman was being prepared as an organ donor. She was pronounced dead based on cardiac death. A minute after being pronounced dead the doctors noticed that her aortic and renal arteries were pumping and pulsing. The organ procurement surgery was stopped. The person was then given additional doses of Fentanyl and Lorazepam leading to the woman being pronounced dead again 18 minutes after being pronounced dead the first time.

The case study reports that the autopsy concluded:

A postmortem sub-clavian blood toxicology study found 6.3 ng/mL of Fentanyl, 17 ng/mL of Lorazepam, 15 mcg/mL of Levetiracetam, and 29 ng/mL of Ziprasidone. The cause of death was determined to be acute Fentanyl toxicity due to a Fentanyl injection in the hospital. Another significant condition contributing to death was a ruptured berry aneurysm of the Circle of Willis. The manner of death was determined to be homicide. It is our opinion that the additional dose of Fentanyl given between 3: 00 A.M. and 3: 17 A.M. was the direct cause of death.

I fear that the outcome of this case is not as uncommon as presumed. It is likely that this case became known because one of the medical professionals who was involved with this case was aghast by the reality that the patient was intentionally killed. Since these acts and decisions are made in private settings, it is likely that this occurrence happens somewhat regularly without any notice or commentary by others. Further to that, the administration of a lethal dose of fentanyl is unlikely to have been done unless it had been in the past.

In countries that have legalized euthanasia, linking organ donation to euthanasia not only provides a source of healthy organs for transplant but it also turns euthanasia into a “social good.”