On the news this morning, there was a story about a very high profile case where a doctor stands accused of hastening a terminally brain damaged patient’s death in order to harvest organs. There is a fear in the medical community that this will cause people to be even more reluctant to become organ donors. Currently, half the people on the waiting list for organs die waiting. This is a travesty! You’re dead, you don’t need your organs, but someone else does.
I am an organ donor and you should be too. sign up: http://www.organdonor.gov/
Personally, I think organ donation should be compulsory, provided that you are in good health (most organ donations are from accident victims–people who die of old age diseases don’t generally make good donors). I will take the controversial stance that there should be no opting out, because then it would no longer be totally egalitarian. While some would protest that stand, on personal or religious grounds, my response is that not providing someone with needed medical treatment overrules any personal objections. You’re dead, that’s it, your organs belong to someone else now.
Of course, there has to be a system of safeguards in place, to prevent organ harvesting from viable patients. But if you’re brain dead, and not going to leave the hospital, someone else should be given the chance to live. In the case discussed on CBS this morning, the patient was brain dead and would have died after lingering on life support in a week or so, damaging his organs in the process. Speeding up his death had positive utility value to the people he saved.
This was an emotional issue last year for me, as my friend Chris Webber died from head trauma, as a result of being hit by a van while crossing the street. I don’t know whether his organs were donated. Also last spring, my college roommate Tony died of liver cancer. I don’t believe a liver transplant was an option for him, but if it was, the system is guilty of killing him–he died because someone was either too careless to register as an organ donor, or selfishly wanted to take their organs with them.
Please register as an organ donor