Friday, February 18, 2005

Transplant

There is a great article about organ transplantation in the New York Times I just read. It's stirring. It has a happy ending, in a way, in which other people get a dead woman's organs, to save and improve their lives. I wish the article touched on the other side of the coin, one I've seen far too often. For every transplant case I've see, I've probably seen 5 missed opportunites. Missed opportunities for the single reason that the family was unsure what the person's wishes would have been, or they did not want to make the decision, so erred on the side of non-intervention. In doing so, they literally killed people. Although the effect was not direct, the effect is not deniable.

It's unbelievable to me that many patients, more than you would think, actually want their organs in their bodies for burial. guess what: these tissues do not do you any good after you're dead. In fact, you can't use them at all.

People believe their organs belong to them after death, but I'd like to see the law changed so that after death, organs become public domain, like parks: something with extraordinary value, something to be respected and cherished, and something to be used. I think it's sensible for this to occur. People don't claim to own anything after they die, like their house, their cats, their money. Instead, we have wills and such for the transfer of this property. I'd like to see the body set aside for organ transplant as a matter of course, and only on serious situations, like belonging to a religion that prohibits such practices, or obviously, medical problems that limit transplantation (age, disease, various infections). Transplants should be done as a matter of course, and it should take effort to derail a potential transplant. Now it takes effort to start the transplant process going. That's wrong and we can do better.

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