Want to be an organ donor? Be very afraid…

Patients could be kept alive to become donors and hearts retrieved from newborn babies in controversial BMA proposals, says the Guardian, going on to expand on the first idea:-

“The BMA wants a debate about the use of an ethically contentious practice called “elective ventilation”, in which patients diagnosed as dead using brain stem tests – such as those who have suffered a massive stroke – are kept alive purely to enable organ retrieval.”

To which any normal person can only ask, in gape-mouthed horror, what the fuck?

We’ve seen, in the past, just how untrustworthy diagnoses of brain stem death have been, or patients deemed for years to be in a permanent vegetative state turning out to be nothing of the sort – I sure as hell don’t want some transplant surgeon with an ulterior motive pronouncing me “just dead enough,” thank you very much. There is simply too much room for error. I know things have improved since that infamous Panorama programme** in the 80s, but the introduction of this scheme will simply resurrect all the old doubts about who is dead enough, and who gets to decide.

**As you’ll see from that link, an estimated 2% of people diagnosed as brain dead actually weren’t.

Regardless of whether it is ethically reprehensible to maintain patients in a “not quite dead” state as living spares bins – and it most certainly is, in my view – just how much bed space, and how much medical resources, are these almost alive subjects – the modern-day Undead – going to soak up before they’re finally gutted of anything usable and cast aside?

And what about families – how long are they expected to wait to bury their loved ones? Weeks? Months? And for those of a religious dispositions, what, exactly, happens to the soul if the body is prevented from dying?

Are we, perhaps, heading for a “Coma” situation, where medical crime fiction becomes medical reality?

In my view this idea will not result in more people going on the donor register, but fewer, and probably very much fewer –  if I thought I’d be kept more or less alive, more or less indefinitely, before my somewhat knackered organs were considered usable – the article goes on to say that the age limit for donation is to be raised – (actually, apart from my heart and lungs, the rest is in pretty good nick), I’d withdraw my permission tomorrow – and I might very well do so. This suggestion is beyond unethical, it’s obscene.

I’m not overfond of hospitals as it is, and this plan could make me extremely unwilling to set foot in one as an in-patient ever again. Christ, I couldn’t even rely on them to provide my correct medication; I sure as hell wouldn’t trust them to keep me out of the clutches of these latter-day body-snatchers.

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2 thoughts on “Want to be an organ donor? Be very afraid…

  1. The shudder moments come daily these days, don’t they?

    Yesterday on Radio 4, sometime midday (ish) there was a phone in about this very subject. A woman rang in to say that she had torn up her Organ Donor Card. She had done this because a friend of hers, an ITU nurse had witnessed a “brain dead” patient having his kidneys harvested. This supposedly “dead” body, according to the caller, was bucking and thrashing around during the whole procedure.

    In the “i” newspaper, a couple of weeks ago, there was brief mention that the rules could soon be changed regarding receiving payment for live donation of organs. So live donors could be paid. I see a future where anyone relying on benefits to live will be actively coerced into selling their organs before being considered for means tested benefits

    ….and the powers would insist that the benefit claimant only spent the cash they received for the organ at weekly benefit rates. One kidney might pay for a whole years worth of JSA or LRM/LRC of DLA 😉

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