Friday, February 8, 2008

Medical ethics revisited

I had a comment on my recent entry about an organ donor group. It was from a member of the organization (I'm not sure how they found me, but it kind of gives me the creeps that they did), and yes, I knew the name, I just chose not to publicize it. I rarely delete comments, but I chose to delete this one, because they were promoting the organization on my journal, and I just don't care for that. I don't endorse the group, and I won't promote it. Here's the comment, with the naughty bits removed:

The organization you refer to is [deleted]. Our web site is [deleted]. You stated that members "will only donate organs to other members of the organization." This is incorrect. Members ask that their organs be offered first to other members, but they make them available to non-members if no member is a suitable match. This is to avoid wasting life-saving organs.

[Deleted] is an attempt to save lives by increasing the number of organ donors. [Deleted] offers a very good trade -- you agree to donate your organs after you're dead, and in exchange you'll increase your chances of getting a transplant should you ever need one to live.

This incentive-based approach is necessary because the current organ donation system, which relies completely on altruism, is failing to reduce the organ shortage. The shortage grows worse every year, and more than half of the people on the transplant waiting list die waiting.

About 50% of the organs transplanted in the United States are given to people who have not agreed to donate their own organs. This is a great way to guarantee a shortage of transplantable organs.

Giving organs first to registered organ donors produces more organ donors. This is the best way to help people who are in dire need of organ transplants. It's also completely fair. People who are unwilling to share the gift of live (when there's nothing else they can do with their organs) have no moral claim to organs that registered organ donors need.

[Deleted] is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization staffed by unpaid volunteers. Membership is free and open to all at [deleted] or by calling [deleted]. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. Members include doctors, nurses, bioethicists, lawyers, law professors, teachers, parents, and others.

It would seem at first look that there are some valid points, but one sentence in particular really bothers me: "People who are unwilling to share the gift of live [sic] (when there's nothing else they can do with their organs) have no moral claim [italics mine] to organs that registered organ donors need."

No moral claim? I wonder who in the organization has decided what constitutes a "moral claim?" And to give first preference to someone merely because they belong to an organization smacks of exclusion to me. There is a proposal out there for an implied consent approach, which I believe is used in other countries. Essentially, you are a donor unless you expressly say that you do NOT want to be one. Our system is the opposite, and I would completely support the implied consent option. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to be an organ donor, and maybe, just maybe, you could save a life.

I also won't endorse any web site or organization with which I don't agree, and I'll delete any comments that try to include such information. If you want to find out more about this organization, you can do a search for organ donor organizations (so to speak), or words to that effect. I'm sure you'll find them...but you won't find them here.


tsalagiman1 said...

This sounds like exclusionism to me since it's not a group of people who agree to be organ donors with the organs available to all.  What I'm trying to say is these folks don't seem to be just pooling their resources.  I alsoagree about the "no moral claim" part.  Everyone has a right to either be a donor or not.  People who choose not to should not be passed over and allowed to die.  It's not only exclusionism, but also sounds like a form of socialized medicine to me.


frankandmary said...

I think they wrote that in a rather typical condescending way.  I have worked in the medical field most of my adult life & have known people that could be a donor due to illness, fright, belief of a partner, or religious reasons.  While I might at times not even see their point, IT WAS THEIR POINT, not always for me to see or judge, & I would not want to think that if they needed a life saving procedure they could not get it because of the above. ~Mary

rdautumnsage said...

Creepy group.....I don't think at any time in my life I would want to know my life could be bought.....In other words for the right price I could find whatever I transplant I needed as long as I belonged to this group or had said amount of money. I would want my organs to go to someone who desperately needed it, despite religious beliefs, race or age.....

Wonder if this group has Scientology members in it? (Hugs) Indigo

luvrte66 said...

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who is bothered on some level by this. While they don't charge membership fees, and they say it's a not-for-profit organization, there seems to be something fundamentally wrong with the premise. I feel that I should not be the one to judge who my organs go to...they may go to someone I would find really awful. But it's the doctors' decision to make, not mine, and the person with the greatest need goes first.

That's why medical ethics is such a sticky issue--there are serious considerations to be take into account in any decision.


queeniemart said...

Wow, the fact that he/she found you IS all sounds very creepy to me.