Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Lucia Organ harvesting must be resisted if donors aren't really dead

Every once in while the issue of organ donation comes up, such as these two posts on Kiwiblog a couple of weeks ago (Increasing Organ Donations & Organ Donations: A guest post by Andy Tookey.

The problem with so few organ donations, the argument quite often goes, is the family of the potential donor. Apparently too many family members are stopping their deceased loved ones from having their organs harvested to save the life of another person. However, in Leicester, England, having a family member stand firm against having his apparently "brain dead" son's organ's harvested saved his son's life. Yes, the "brain dead" son recovered. If his organs had been harvested, he would be dead.

LEICESTER, England, April 25, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - According to the Daily Mail newspaper, a young British man owes his life to an insistent father who would not allow his son’s organs to be removed from his body, despite assurances from four doctors that his son could not recover from the wounds he had suffered in a recent car accident.

The Mail reports that Stephen Thorpe, then 17, was placed in a medically-induced coma following a multi-car pileup that had already taken the life of his friend Matthew, who was driving the vehicle.
Stephen Thorpe, who four doctors had declared brain dead

Although a team of four physicians insisted that his son was “brain-dead” following the wreck, Thorpe’s father enlisted the help of a general practitioner and a neurologist, who demonstrated that his son still had brain wave activity. The doctors agreed to bring him out of the coma, and five weeks later Thorpe left the hospital, having almost completely recovered.

Today, the 21-year-old with “brain damage” is studying accounting at a local university. “‘My impression is maybe the hospital weren’t very happy that my father wanted a second opinion,” he told the Mail.

This story is not unusual as the LifeSiteNews link below links to quite a number of other stories of people who have recovered after being diagnosed as "brain-dead", some of whom were even conscious while listening to these same doctors discussing their organ donation with family members. I can't imagine anything worse, being alive and conscious, but not being able to to speak while people around you discuss your impending dismemberment (while conscious) which will lead to your death.

Unfortunately, "brain death" is an arbitrary diagnosis as a means of determining death - there's no sure way of ensuring the person is really dead until the person is actually dead, after which many organs cannot be usefully harvested. People diagnosed with "brain death" don't look dead and their bodies aren't really dead, hence the difficulty many family members have with believing that they are dead, such as the man in the story above.

However, the latest proposal in New Zealand (see two posts linked to on Kiwiblog above) is to only allow those who consent to having their organs harvested to be eligible for organs themselves. Yet again, the possibility of not really being dead is ignored. Maybe those who campaign for organ donation such as Andy Tookey who wrote the guest post for Kiwiblog, don't appear to think it matters.

Ultimately, whatever proposals are put forward, in New Zealand at least, the family is still a potential organ donor's last line of defence against scalpel-happy doctors. So far, that defence is holding, for now.

Related link: Dad rescues ‘brain dead’ son from doctors wishing to harvest his organs – boy recovers completely

2 comment(s):

ZenTiger said...

The problem with such harvesting is that there is no way of proving otherwise if they go ahead and carve up the body. There appears to be no downside to a wrong diagnosis - although one case in 10 mentions a lawsuit, but I haven't read about any successful ones yet.

I wonder if those "experts" will learn anything from this event?

ZenTiger said...

The problem with such harvesting is that there is no way of proving otherwise if they go ahead and carve up the body. There appears to be no downside to a wrong diagnosis - although one case in 10 mentions a lawsuit, but I haven't read about any successful ones yet.

I wonder if those "experts" will learn anything from this event?

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