Saturday, September 29, 2012

I (Heart) (Kidney) (Liver) (Spleen) NY!

If you're traveling to New York, you might want to make sure your family knows your organ donation wishes. Some New York health care workers have filed a lawsuit with the shocking claim that they were pressured by the state Organ Donor Network to prematurely declare patients brain dead so that their organs could be harvested. Their lawsuit names four different instances of unethical organ harvesting at four hospitals. Organ donation has been long guided by what is known as the "Dead Donor Rule," which explains that "to hasten the death of a person whose death... is already inevitable is homicide in law," and that "anyone removing organs from an apparently inanimate body... must first ask himself whether he can positively pronounce the body dead."

While that moral barrier seems like common sense, it's apparently too much for doctors anxious to do transplants. One of the plaintiffs, Patrick McMahon, a nurse practitioner who had the role of organ transplant coordinator, may have been fired for resisting the practice of prematurely calling a patient dead. All four cases included elements of pressuring next of kin into providing consent before the patients were dead. The patients included a 19-year-old man who was injured in an automobile accident, a mother who had recently undergone a kidney transplant, a woman who was recovering from a drug overdose, and another adult male. According to McMahon, all patients showed signs of life when they were declared dead. As with abortion and embryonic stem cells, this is the trend in our culture: discarding lives of the powerless when they're inconvenient or when their destruction may benefit the powerful.

Tony Perkins
Family Research Council