23 March 2008

Organ Waiting Lists Grossly Inaccurate.

"The list is what they use for propaganda. It's the marketing tool. It's always: 'The waiting list. The waiting list. The growing waiting list,' " Luebke said. "It's what they use to argue that we need more organs. But it's dishonest."

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23751815


Depending on the type of organ needed, the list can be wildly inaccurate. Nearly *69 percent* of those waiting for a pancreas were ineligible to actually receive one should it become available, according to NBC News. Roughly a third of those waiting for a kidney were ineligible as well.

Sometimes, a person is temporarily unable to receive an organ due to sickness or infection. Naturally, if I got the flu and a needed kidney became available, it wouldn't be the ideal time for a transplant. But folks are on the list who were ineligible for OVER two years. Don't you think after a couple years that it's time to face the reality that you're really not going to get the transplant? I know it has to be hard for the families to face the fact that Grandpa is just NEVER going to get that liver or pancreas. That he will die of the condition or with it. Probably it's the most depressing part of being a doctor, having to tell patients and their families realities like this and remove them from the waiting lists. But it has to be done sometime.

The large number of people on the lists is spurring insane political action on the part of donor advocacy groups:

*

Advocates are also pushing a controversial strategy for obtaining organs from patients who are not yet brain-dead, known as donation after cardiac death, or DCD.

"The push for DCD is based solely on the idea that we have a huge disparity of organs," said Gail Van Norman, an anesthesiologist and bioethicist at the University of Washington.

*

So... Let's see if I have this right. "Donation advocates" would already want me to donate organs from living, breathing family members who are "brain dead" and presumably will not recover. They'd traipse into the hospital room and ask me to consider helping out all those poor suffering people who would die without an organ transplant. Think of all the people who have their wits intact I could save by allowing my loved one to be chopped up piecemeal and distributed like spare auto parts. Wouldn't that be nice of me? It's the Christian thing to do to help others in this hurting world. You know, by sacrificing and stuff.

Now let's take it another step further. We might as well!

And maybe another step...

And another...

Soon we'll be figuring out whose lives are worthy to be spared, and who should die. I think anyone who loves someone with ANY disability from dyslexia to severe developmental disability ought to start getting good and mad right here. People do not equal spare parts. Ever. Under any circumstance. That's why I'm against abortion, too, by the way. How about a little human compassion for the voiceless?

Do not even THINK of asking me about donation until someone is dead. I mean really all the way dead. To me, "dead" does not equal "can't talk." Or "not awake." To me, "dead" means that you've tried everything reasonable to get that heart pumping and those lungs working and you can't. Such activity has stopped for at least five full minutes or so. I mean that there is NO WAY to bring this person 'round. At all. You know, really really REALLY dead. Really.

And if that means fewer people get a new heart or kidney, so be it. I would not want YOU to die so *I* can have a new heart, friend. When it's time for me to go, I'm gone. I'm scared to go, but that is my problem. I am sure I will encounter a loving and compassionate God who has already forgiven my sins and will wipe every tear. Today on Resurrection Sunday, I remember that He is Risen and has the power to keep me forever in his grasp.

May you all have a Happy Easter, and remember that Jesus lives and still forgives us. He still cares, even when it seems this world is a total mess. I know that's something I need to keep in mind when I read stories like this. Somehow, He is still in control. God bless you and keep you.

:]

5 comments:

  1. Yikes...I don't like to think about the bad things that will happen when we decide to begin "harvesting" the organs of those we deem less worthy of life than those who have become ill.

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  2. I know this is irreverent, but when I saw the title I was thinking of like church organ (you know that make music)(since we just came home from church) and thought how very strange and why a whole post for that.

    Then I actually read the post. It was very nicely done. I have to agree. I want them good and dead before they try to take something out. I made my husband change his driver's license because it said he would be a organ donor and I just didn't like that.

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  3. And it's a shame, too, that "activists" and others are making such proposals, because it really kills (ha ha) the generous spirit in us that wants to help others.

    I know people who have benefitted from organ donation and know it changes lives in amazing ways. But I'm not on the list either, no way.

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  4. Hi, Mrs. C.

    Meandered over here from Casdok's blog. I hate to be controversial and disagreeable the first time I visit a blog, but feel compelled to add my bit to this.

    I agree with a lot of what you say. The decisions that we make concerning organ donation need to be made with accurate information, and people that are consenting for donation (for themselves or their loved ones) need to be fully informed.

    DCD is a bit controversial, in my book, and has some potential for abuse. And I definitely disagree with one thing that was not mentioned in this post, which is changing consent for donation to an "opt out" option, rather than an "opt in" option, as it is now. Under an "opt out" option, all people would be assumed to consent for donation, unless they had specifically opted out.

    But the one thing I disagree with is donation after brain death. There is a big difference between brain death and what people refer to as coma, or persistant vegatative state.

    There are very rigid protocols for declaring one brain dead. An EEG (recording of brain waves) must be done twice, at least 24 hours apart. The patient can't be on any drugs that could depress the brain waves. The patient also has to have two exams from experts in diagnosing brain death (neurologists or neurosurgeons) at the same time. These physicians can not otherwise be involved in the care of this patient, or potential organ recipients.

    I am fully satisfied that if a patient is brain dead that they are truly dead. Although their heart may beat, they are "totally" dead. They cannot think or feel anything.

    The reason that it is impractical to wait for your standard is that many organs are less viable (or even nonviable) after that period of time. Your corneas are still OK, but much else is ruined.

    Brain death does equal death. I am not totally satisfied that the donation after cardiac death occurs after "total death".

    Just something to think about. Again, sorry to be argumentative my first time here.

    Joe

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  5. Joe, you are SO welcome here on my blog. I'd hate for it to just be my little Amen corner.

    I guess the idea of "brain dead" scares me because as a layperson, how do I know the difference between that and someone in a coma? If we look at the Terry Schiavo case, we see a LOT of controversy about issues like these. In a crisis, I wouldn't know which medical people to believe.

    Incidentally, the opt-out thing also happened in a nearby area not too long ago when a local hospital stated it would try out new blood-like (synthetic) products on people in emergency situations to see how well it worked. It wouldn't be a situation where consent could be "properly" given... so let's just assume everyone thinks it's ok!

    I'm sure you ARE right about the organs not being viable if you wait too long. It's such an important idea to be SURE though. You just get no do-overs and so to ME, the needs of the person currently alive far outweigh the (very real!) needs of the person on the transplant list.

    I don't think you were disagreeable at all! Please come back and disagree with me some other time. :]

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)