In California, if you want to be an organ donor, you get a little sticker to put somewhere on your driver's license. I don't have one of those stickers, so I don't know what it looks like. Maybe it's just me, but I get the feeling that people who don't get the sticker are looked down on somehow. Like they hate people or something.
I don't hate people, but I've had this nagging doubt that if I put the sticker on my drivers license, the medical profession might not try quite as hard to revive me as they would if they knew they weren't getting any of my body parts. I want to be resuscitated and kept on life support and all the things they can do to prolong my life. And that usually means keeping all my parts to myself.
Now it seems I have validation of my concern (call it paranoia, if you prefer). Paul A. Byrne, M.D., wrote an article for Renew America Friday describing the perils of organ donation (emphasis in the original).
Recent news reports of responses in persons declared "brain dead" should have alerted everyone that "brain death" is not true death. In at least two cases, the observed response prevented the organ transplantation protocols from going further. Zack Dunlap later reported how he could hear discussions of his death, but he could not respond at that time. Val Thomas had flat brain waves for 17 hours before her response was observed.
We are continually bombarded with ads to be an organ donor. We are told that we are giving the "gift of life" in organ donation. We are led to believe that organs are taken for transplantation after true death — i.e., after the heart and circulation stops and there is no known way to restore them. We are seldom, if ever, made aware that after true death, the heart, liver, and other vital organs are not suitable for transplantation.
If the [Organ Procurement Organization (OPO)] determines that your organs are suitable, a "designated requestor" is sent to the hospital to seek permission from relatives, close friends, or a government official. This is done under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) that was passed in all 50 States in 1968. The Revised Act 2006 has already been revised in 30 states. The Revised Act has been introduced in 10 more states this year. This Revised Act (2006) makes everyone a "prospective donor." This means that it is presumed that you intend to be an organ donor unless you have signed a refusal.
The Revised Act has language that does not protect the life of the prospective donor and does not benefit ordinary citizens. It appears to discriminate by looking so hard at facilitating the obtaining of organs for transplantation that it overrides the fully and explicitly informed consent of the donor?
A "prospective donor," according to this bill, may be someone who is "near death" and yet the organ procurement medical team can initiate measures that may actually do harm to the still-living potential donor — such as increasing fluids to a head-injured patient, administering heparin and Regitine, etc., in order to "ensure the medical suitability of an organ." It is absolutely appalling to think that once a person is identified as a potential donor, organs for transplant become more important than the person to whom they belong!
Yes, much is being done to get your organs. For an organ to be suitable for transplantation, it must be a healthy organ and must come from a living person. Please wake up! Organ excision does not benefit the person from whom the organs are taken.
There's a lot of detail in the article, most of it depressing. If, like me, you want to keep your vital organs as long as possible, you'll have to to make your wishes very clear.