The son of a couple who chose to die together wants Quebec to change its organ donation system

MONTREAL -- The son of a Laval couple who ended their lives through medically assisted dying is calling on Quebec to change its organ donation program in order to increase the amount of donors.

Francois Boucher and Francine Messier were married for 50 years, and both suffered from polycystic kidney disease. Both received transplants as part of their treatment but were later forced to resume dialysis.

Two weeks ago, after numerous other health complications, they both chose to die.

“My father was telling my mom that he had 50 years of great time with her. For him it was a great thing to leave this world knowing they had 50 years of love together,” said their son Jean-Francois Boucher.

The couple passed away at the same time on Oct. 31.

“Both beds were two or three feet apart. The doctor came between the two of them and he began the treatment for the end,” said Boucher.

The younger Boucher suffers from the same disease as his parents and had undergone a kidney transplant in 2008. He said he wants Quebec to implement an opt-out system, in which all Quebecers would be organ donors by default and would have to choose to change that status.

“People would give their organs automatically instead of having to have a signature, instead of having their family make sure they agree,” he said.

A similar system has been adopted in Nova Scotia, and Alberta is studying an opt-out law. Liberal MNA Andre Fortin tabled Bill 399 at the National Assembly this week, which, if passed, would change the law so Quebecers automatically consent to organ and tissue donations.

“We’re expecting to double the number of organs which are going to be available if we work this way,” said Boucher.

The pair’s grandson, Nathan Boucher, said an opt-out would have “a snowball effect.”

“More and more people learn about this, maybe this will get so many lives saved,” he said.