01 December 2010

A Day at Home

It's Sunday afternoon and you and the younger children are watching TV after church and waiting for lunch. Your wife, Jill, is upstairs fixing tacos with your older son, Teddy. Today, there will be fresh tomatoes from the garden with the taco fixings. It's going to be great.

Teddy appears in the doorway with a flustered look. "Mom's fallen down!" he tells you. Quickly, you leave the children in his care and investigate. Jill is slumped over, half awake. You call 911. The paramedics are on their way. Jill drifts in and out of consciousness as you wait for the ambulance. It seems like forever, but when they arrive, you are quickly relegated to spectator status.

What are they doing? Jill's shirt is off and they are pushing on her chest. Her heart. Please let her live, God. But you know what the lead paramedic is going to say to you after they stop working, cover Jill respectfully, and begin packing their gear.

My God. It just doesn't seem real, God.

You're not really sure what is happening. The EMTs leave the room and you are confused as to what must happen next, who you must talk to, what to say to the children, whether any of this is even really happening.

It looks like another medical team has walked into the kitchen. One of the workers is carrying a clipboard and asking about your wife's medical history. Shocked, you answer all the questions and she seems to be coordinating your answers on some electronic device. You are just going through the motions, just trying to function in the moment.

Kidneys.

What was that about kidneys? You want to take Jill out of the kitchen and take her kidneys? Organ donation? Jill was making tacos. Then she fell down and organ donation. You need me to sign a paper because you need the paper signed. Not understanding what, must live through this minute and what will I tell Teddy and I hear the smaller children crying. There is really no time, please sign and save someone's life.

They are hungry and I am not sure about lunch. Kidneys and paper and not sure why but would I sign this paper you need signed organ donation confused. Must get through. Get through. Sign paper. Get through.

**

Does the above story sound like "informed consent" to you? It's organ stealing. And it's legal. As one commenter so aptly put it, "Sick people have NO claim whatsoever to anyone else's organs. Period. Ever."

It's a good thing for these vultures that they're pulling this crap in Manhattan, because around here? They would encounter some um, physical expression of anger at the hands of shocked and incapacitated family members. Though it seems like that's what it's going to take before people start learning that there are limits there somewhere and back the frog up. I mean, this was funded by our GOVERNMENT!!

Don't you dare try it at my house. No telling what might happen, and I know you don't mean to be an organ donor just yet.

Read the article. Tell me what you would say to the birds circling around your dead wife.

12 comments:

  1. It's a bit out there but it seemed that they would only be trying to take organs from those who have already agreed to be an organ donor, not that hospitals don't try and get consent from those who are not from family members but this program to me sounded like they go to all just because they wouldn't know until they were there if the person who died was a donor or not.

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  2. Hi, Megan, and thanks for commenting!

    I have to disagree with you. I'm thinking it should be none of their damn business WHO is on what registry until the person in question is proven dead AND the family has asked for them to come. They should NOT have access to any medical records whatsoever. And knowing that there is a heart attack victim at such and such address is record enough that I hope they get their butts sued/severely injured by angry people. They are not providing a service to sick people; they are stealing medical records (legally) and mentally assaulting family members at a vulnerable time.

    It's just very creepy. I mean, how would you feel if you called for an ambulance, and the black cadaver car trailed along behind it "just in case?" Would you feel you have a good prognosis?

    I used to have an organ donation sticker on my license, but the more stories like this I read, the more I realize that the whole thing is a bad idea. If people are sick and need transplants, these are not "their" organs. They are not even "wasted" organs if they're not donated.

    I think we need to go back to the thought that this is a GIFT from the deceased and his family, not some right "because we have 50,000 sick New Yorkers." Well, THEIR sickness should have nothing to do with MY medical care.

    And crap. The government getting involved in my medical care. I can only imagine where this is going.

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  3. Hmm... I've never seen this as a "these are your organs because I'm dead now" but rather a "now that I'm dead, please make my remains as useful as possible" kind of thing. I'm an organ donor and happy about that. Of course, I'm a rather heartless person and think, 'Look, when I'm dead, I don't care what you do with my body.' My loved ones may disagree, but when I'm dead my body doesn't matter to me anymore. If left to it's own plan, it will just rot away.

    Granted, you raise some very good points here. My immediate thought was, "Why is the government shelling out any money at all on this?" ...but, really, it'd be even worse if it were a private corporate entity. I can hear the screams, wailing and gnashing of teeth now.

    So, is this ideal? No. But that's because we don't live in an idyllic world. I hope--perhaps naively--that they will not do unethical things in this and that it will truly be about saving lives using the parts of those who gladly give.

    ~Luke

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  4. Hi, Luke! I guess I'm looking at it and not caring about the "idyllic" world of organ donation. I'm thinking that the errors ought to be on the side of NOT getting the organs, of NOT pushing the issue with families and that sort of thing. If there is a "firewall" between medical care and organ "procurement," then the organ "procurement" guys will be so far on the sidelines that many organs that would otherwise be donateable SHOULD BE MISSED. They shouldn't be sitting in the driveway asking if the patient is dead yet.

    Though I would IMAGINE that if you've made your wishes very clear with your family that they would abide by them. I know I have some folks in my family that I would - much against my own taste in the matter! - make that donation on their behalf because they wished it in life.

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/12/01/new.york.911.organ.donation/index.html?hpt=Sbin

    Here's the same story with a more liberal spin (CNN).

    I find it innnnteresting that all the articles want to link "how many sick people are out there" with the "fact" that we need to increase the number of organs recovered? And then they say they are working in the best interests of the patient?

    They aren't! You can say that "organ donation saves lives," and it might just. But the person with the right to the organ is NOT the person with the illness. And it's not the hospital. And it's not these organ "procurement" teams. It just isn't.

    Like I said, I used to be very pro-organ donation until stories like this popped up in the news. It's almost as though hospitals and medical people think of these organs as THEIRS to distribute and that it is some sort of "shame" that there aren't more of them.

    I mean... it's a "shame" there is poverty, but would you want the charities to follow the ambulances and hit widows up for donations before the funeral home arrives? :)

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  5. I'm not an organ donator. I find it disturbing. It is like vultures & I'm sorry [heartless as it may sound] life is a terminal illness. We all die. I think our focus is wrong. Perhaps, just perhaps, we should be a little more focused on how we die, what we believe about death & prepare accordingly. This is way too open to abuse ~ like euthenasia or *assisted* suicide.

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  6. I would be horrified if someone was waiting at the door to see if my loved one was dead yet.. and if so we want his/her kidneys PLEASE!

    There is a time and place for this.... but it is certainly NOT within moments of a sudden death of a loved one... people need time to absorb that dreadful fact before having to consider organ donation.

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  7. And who's to know if the medical experts who try to revive the person only give it a half hearted attempt, knowing that the organ donation 'team' are on standby right outside the front door! Pressure? much.

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  8. Yank out your wet noodle, I disagree.

    I have been on both sides. Neither one is easy. My children have a Grandma because someone's daughter was killed and her family selflessly agreed to having her organs donated. Grandma was dying, she had been in a hospital for weeks on end when the news came that she was being taken in for surgery. It was a tragic miracle that have given us 14 years and counting with a woman who has adopted my kids as her own grandbabies and loved them endlessly. She is the Grandma that every kid should have, and the young lady who died helped give that to my children.

    I have signed my license and made it known to all immediate family that I want to pay this act forward, if something should happen to me...let whom ever can benefit from my death have another holiday with their loved ones, live to see their own grandbabies, or just simply have one more day.

    Sadly, with organ donation, time is of the essence and every minute counts. Is it *nice* to think that people are hearing these ambulance calls and following along just in case....no. It's not. But if I was in a hospital waiting for an organ so my husband, or my babies could live, I would want those precious minutes to benefit my loved ones. So, in turn, I need to be willing to have those minutes benefit someone else. As far as privacy goes, anyone is allowed to own a scanner and hear ambulance calls, screening them in the event that someone could live doesn't offend or upset me.

    My husband has made it clear he disagrees with organ donation. He does not want anything given away, and he has said that he will stand in the way of me donating anything if he can. He can't bear the thought of it. Everyone is different. But, Happy Elf Mom, if the end of my life benefitted yours, or your children's lives, I wouldn't want my family to be offended that they were asked at an inopportune moment to help you, I would want them to know that I would LOVE knowing a part of me lived on, and helped another family know the joy that we have known with Grandma Dotty. It's a double edged sword, and at the end of the day I can get over hurt feelings, and being offended if it means another life.

    On the other hand, my cousin was killed by a drunk driver. She was brain dead, and on life support for days. Her license was signed as a donor, her husband hoping for a miracle would not turn anything off. He prayed and brought her four children in to ask Mommy to wake up for them. He, along with my Aunt and Uncle were talked to about organ donation. They would need to take her off support, let her 'die' and harvest viable organs. Even though they knew her wishes, and the doctors gave them no hope, they refused to allow it. She lived on life support for several days. Her heart stopped beating on it's own after she developed pneumonia. Months later, they all regretted their choice, but it was done. But it could have gone either way, they could have donated, then regretted it, too. She was a beautiful 34 year old woman with 4 small children, she was buried on Christmas Eve day. Her youngest was just four and unwrapped boots intended for Christmas morning to wear them to her service. The thought of taking her a second sooner from any of them is heartbreaking. They needed her. I can understand their hesitation....but I still know what works for me.

    I do understand your concerns.

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  9. Ganeida, I don't have an objection to organ donation in theory per se, but you are right. We don't really want to teach our children to number their days...

    Chris, that is exactly what scares me!

    Blondee, I have to disagree with you most vehemently here.

    I'm hardly the world's most selfish person, but I don't want this team to pressure my family to "harvest" my organs as though they were some sort of ripe crop.

    Far from just the "offense" that the organ donation question would cause, my big problem with this is the thought that dying people are now just spare parts that can be better used by someone else who can live longer/ better/ whatever. Let the family bring it up if they wish to; that's one thing. That's actually a beautiful thing! I'm not denigrating that at *all*.

    The death van, though. You can't seriously tell me you'd be ok with it parked outside your house.

    "'In a hospital, we do not need the consent of the family to take an organ from someone registered as an organ donor,' Rivera explained."

    (OK IS THAT NOT CHILLING, EVERYONE???)

    "'But in this pilot program, we are not going to attempt to recover any kidneys unless the family agrees.'"

    "Rivera did not know if this policy would change if the pilot is successful, such that the Organ Preservation Unit would be authorized to attempt to preserve a kidney, even if the family objected."

    So... for now, they'll listen to the family. Later, they might just cut your loved one up piecemeal in the back of the death van (parked outside your house for convenience!) over your objections. All it takes is a signature at the DMV and a sticker on your loved one's drivers' license.

    This article makes it very plain that they are waiting, waiting to see what the reaction of New Yorkers would be to all this:

    http://www.wnd.com/index.php/index.php?pageId=234977

    People wonder why more folks don't sign up to be organ donors. Stories like this are not gonna help.

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  10. Hopefully that didn't come across as nasty, come to think of it, because it wasn't "spoken" in that tone when it was typed. Sometimes I'm just really blunt and it comes across as "angry" when it really isn't mad at all.

    I just think all of life is precious. I just can't say that it is "better" for someone else to have your cousin's organs, or for the family to want to spend that last bit of time with her.

    It's just a bad situation any way you look at it. I would probably also make the decision your cousin's family did. Maybe I would regret it also.

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  11. No worries, as I said before....I understand. It's not an easy topic to broach, and how do you ever know if you have made the right choice? We are only human, and none of us know what the right answer is, only He does.

    I guess my thought is that in a moment of grief and shock, I probably wouldn't be thinking of organ donation, and I wouldn't be upset with a reminder of it at a time where minutes matter.....maybe that's that hardened New Yorker in me. jk!

    You're so right, it's a bad situation no matter how you look at it.

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  12. maybe the program itself is not bad just the way it is set up. Because no I would not want to be asked about organ donation seconds after a loved one died there is no way to process that information that quickly, and your right it is not acceptable. But I do believe in organ donation and this type of program would be helpful it should just be set up differently, like maybe all patient are sent to the hospital on life support and after the family has had a chance to say their goodbyes then the questioned of if they are willing to donate can be addressed, this of course would cost more money and sadly that would be a reason to not do that as it could waste money for those who don't donate not that they should have any less time it is just how it would be seen on the business side of this. This is just a hard subject and it has its pros and cons and it goods and bads no matter what way you look at it.

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)