23 April 2008

Organ and Tissue Donation II

In response to my post yesterday concerning Organ and Tissue Donation, I received an interesting comment. I posted it, somewhat reluctantly, but wish to actually expound upon why I don't believe that the suggestion made in the comment is appropriate.


Dave Undis is the Executive Director of LifeSharers, a Nashville, Tennessee based organization that promotes an idea of prioritized donation on the basis of the recipient's donation status (i.e., if they are or are not a donor). His comments follow, with my comments interspersed:



Over half of the 98,000 Americans on the national transplant waiting list will die before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate about 20,000 transplantable organs every year. Over 6,000 of our neighbors suffer and die needlessly every year as a result.


I agree with Dave; as a proponent of Organ and Tissue donation, I definately am not thrilled that so many people do not elect to give the gift of life. That being said, why do people choose not to donate? In fact, how many people have truly rejected donation? Simply asking "Do you want to be an organ donor" at the license branch isn't sufficient. We need education. We cannot blame those who do not know about donation for going to their graves with their organs.



There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- give organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die. Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors.


I doubt it. People use the same justifiction to support captial punishment. The United States executes, per capita, the largest number of criminals in the western world, yet we have one of the highest violent crime rates on the planet. People won't have a clue about this idea - just as many have no real clue what donation is all about. Then, they will find out about it and it will be too late.



It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.


Again, what about a lack of education and knowledge? You are going to have to do better, Dave, in convincing me that this is a good idea. Until there is effective, universal education on this issue, your plan makes no sense. It excludes people who have bought into the lies about donation (i.e., they take organs from black folks and kill them and give them to white folks... or... if they know I am a donor, they won't try to save my life). Look at the country we live in, Dave... do you REALLY think we have the knowledge in this nation to make your dream a reality? I don't. Also, I am not willing to write off those who are ignorant of donation, just as I am not willing to write off God's gift of eternal life among those who have never heard of Christ. To do so would be, in my mind, a betrayal of my Christian principles.


So, in short, Mr. Undis, thanks... but no thanks. Our Organ Donation system is flawed, needs help, and could stand to use a massive infusion of people... but it works far better than singling people out because of a lack of knowledge or because they have been taught all their lives that Donation is one group's way of being a modern-day succubus off of another group.


When and if (and I do mean if) the United States passes a presumtive consent law concerning donation (you are a donor unless you opt out) then it will make sense to classify people based on their conscious decision to opt out of participating in the system. Until then, I am absolutely uncomfortable with any move to restrict donation in the fashion that LifeSharers suggests.

1 comments:

Dave April 24, 2008 at 11:44 AM  

Father Lyons:

Thanks for your thoughtful response to my comment.

You suggest we need more education to get more organ donors. I don't think more education is the answer. Public opinion polls show that over 90% of Americans already support organ donation. The problem is that only 50% have agreed to donate their own organs.

I wrote that giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to donate. You responded "I doubt it". Please consider a thought experiment. Would giving organs LAST to organ donors convince FEWER people to donate? It seems obvious that putting organ donors at the back of the transplant waiting list would lead to fewer donors. Why shouldn't putting organ donors first lead to more donors?

You wrote that LifeSharers "excludes people who have bought into the lies about donation (i.e., they take organs from black folks and kill them and give them to white folks... or... if they know I am a donor, they won't try to save my life)." I wonder how many of these people are willing to accept an organ transplant? If I think signing an organ donor card could cause doctors to not save my life, should I be willing to accept a transplant from someone who might have been left to die for their organs?

Similarly, you wrote of people who think that organ donation "is one group's way of being a modern-day succubus off of another group." Do these people accept organ transplants?

LifeSharers puts the Golden Rule in operation in the world of organ donation: LifeSharers members treat others as we would like others to treat us.

Dave Undis
Executive Director
LifeSharers

All original material (C) 2007-2010 by Father Robert Lyons.

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