Sunday, September 24, 2017

Organ Harvesting: Dissected Alive for Profit?

Most of us sign up to become organ donors, literally, out of the goodness of our hearts, but I've always been a little skeptical (fear of my death being hastened by an eagerness to procure my organs) even before I knew the truth: that our vital organs, in order to be viable for transplant, must be harvested from human beings with a pulse, in other words, alive.

You say, how can that be? What part of after-I'm-dead don't they understand?  Well, you must ask yourself: "What is the legal definition of death?" "What was the legal definition of death?" "Why did the legal definition of death change?" "If a determination of death must be made in accordance with "accepted medical standards", how are "accepted medical standards" created and what are they based on?" "What happened to the great principle, both medical and moral, that governs the medical profession: Primum, non nocere (First, do no harm)?"

In a nutshell, in order for organ transplantation to occur, the need for "dead patients with live organs" became paramount.Below, is an attempt to answer some of those questions, while exposing the truth about organ donation; however, I implore you to do your own research.

The common law standard of death used to be total cessation of cardiac and respiratory function; that is, observable signs that life has ended.  Unfortunately, that  clear definition of death renders organ transplantation, impossible. Yet, human organ transplantation is a multi-billion dollar industry. What gives?  What gives is the legal definition of death. The medical industrial complex, specifically the 1968 Ad Hoc Harvard Committee on Irreversible Coma, created in response to the development of organ transplantation redefined the end of life in such a way that made the transplantation of organs possible.  So, the legal definition of death became subjective, a matter of opinion.

From the book, Death Investigation in America: Coroners, Medical Examiners, and the Pursuit of Medical Certainty By Jeffrey M Jentzen

The proponents of organ donation--transplant surgeons and bioethicists--represented two powerful new specialties. A decades long conflict began between these specialists and medical examiners, coroners, and prosecutors over the major basis of the latter's professional status--the possession of the body. Now, a lucrative business of organ procurement and a sentimental public relations campaign pressing for organ transplantation began to criticize medical examiners. Created in part in response to the development of organ transplantation, the 1968 Ad Hoc Harvard Committee on Irreversible Coma established that an individual could be legally pronounced dead by the physician based on the constellation of clinical findings that did not include the heart ceasing to beat.  Against aggressive organ procurement agencies, for profit, tissue recovery teams, and transplant surgeons entered the fight for desperate patients in a battle over possession of the body. Coe and his colleagues faced new challenges in having to wrestle with the sometimes conflicting goals of their obligation to investigate death and their responsibility to supply the public's increasing demand for organs and tissues to support life.

The definition of what constituted death changed from the absence of observable sign of breathing, movement and heartbeat to more subtle definitions based on lack of blood flow to the brain."
Now that the legal determination of death, since the advent of "cadaver" organ transplantation, has eliminated the total cessation of cardiac and respiratory function, death is now defined as the cessation of brain function--brain death--but, what is brain death? How can you be completely dead if your heart is still pumping, if your lungs are still working? Keep in mind, ventilators do not breathe for the patient, they only force air into the lungs; the patient must breathe out on his or her own.  And the diagnosis of Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) is incorrect almost half the time.  In other words, there is no true standard, and the diagnosis of brain death is completely subjective, a matter of opinion based on hospital  policy that is often influenced by profit margin.

But how do they determine "brain death"? Well, there is no legal or even statewide standard State law varies greatly and hospitals dictate what tests (if any) are used for the diagnosis. Many states allow nurses or nurse practitioners to declare brain death. However, there is one test that stands out above the rest and that is the Apnea Test.

Doctors and hospitals proclaim that an Apnea test can be used to confirm brain death. It does no such thing. In fact, it only makes things worse for the patient, your loved one. During the Apnea test, they take the ventilator away for up to ten minutes, at a time when the patient needs oxygen the most, to see how the patient responds. Without that crucial oxygen, the carbon dioxide level goes up which makes the brain swell, making it much more likely the patient will experience true brain death. Once again, keep in mind that a ventilator will not work on a dead person. The only thing a ventilator does is push air in. It does not push air out. Despite what they tell you, the ventilator only works when the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver are functioning. In other words, the patient is not dead!

Now, if you choose to opt out, it's not simply a matter of unchecking the little box on your driver's license or informing family members that should something happen to you, you do not want to donate your organs. Thanks to the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, adopted in 48 states, you must have a document of refusal to opt out.
donor cards are legally binding in 48 states and health professionals who act on them are immune from liability in every state."
The revised UAGA (2006) reaffirms that if a donor has a document of gift, there is no reason to seek consent from the donor family as they have no right to give it legally.  If an individual has not made a document of gift during life, the Revised UAGA (2006) presumes the intent to donate organs, therefore has expanded the list of person (in section 9a  who can consent on behalf of the individual...Finally, if an individual prefers not to donate, this must be documented in a signed, explicit refusal."

It's a good idea to do your homework and research the evolution of major laws that make organ transplantation possible. The major ones are Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA) created in 1981, and the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA), not to mention the Dead Donor Rule, which isn't exactly a law, but a general ethical assumption, enshrined in the UDDA.
The 1998 DHHS Referral and Request Regulation.

In light of the current problems regarding the lack of supply of suitable cadaveric organs, on December 15, 1997, Vice President Al Gore along with the DHHS launched a national initiatives to increase organ donation by 20%.

One element of the national initiative was to propose a rule ensuring that next-of-kin are asked to consent to the procurement of their loved ones organs. As a result, the DHHS passed a Referral and Request Regulation in August of 1998. 

The new regulation provides that hospitals wishing to receive Medicare payments must refer their patients who died along with their patient whose deaths are imminent to a local Organ Procurement Organization (OPO). Consequently, the OPO would provide personnel trained and experienced in obtaining consent to consult with the patient's next of kin and request consent to procure their loved ones organs.

At the same time that an increasing amount of research is finding the brain can heal itself, the use of aggressive tactics by organ procurement teams towards families to accept a diagnosis of "brain death" is increasing.  The result is that the diagnosis of "brain death" has been rapidly increasing over the past several years.  There is no doubt that lucrative financial outcomes factor in when determining brain death. 

To put it simply, the organ donor card gives doctors your permission (under contract law) to remove your organs from your warm, breathing and UN-anesthetized, doctor-declared “brain-dead” body. Keep in mind that young people with healthy organs  are the best candidates for organ harvesting.

As, Dr. Robert Truog, Professor of Medical Ethics, Anesthesiology and Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School asked,
Is our understanding of the facts driving our conclusion or is our desire for certain conclusions driving our interpretation of the facts? Are we gerrymandering the lines between life and death solely to meet social goals? In the long run, is this more likely to bolster or erode the confidence and trust of the people in the organ donation enterprise? "

P.S. I'm only advocating for fully informed organ donors--informed consent--not the end of organ transplantation. I'm only trying to encourage due diligence and the education of oneself and others on the organ donation program. The bottom line is: Challenge the "brain death" diagnosis. Don't sign off on the hospital's advanced directives.   And above all, do not consent to an Apnea test for loved ones!

Think about it, why do they administer paralyzing drugs and sometimes even anti anxiety drugs--however, no anesthesia-- to the organ donor while operating on them?  Because they're not brain dead! Or any kind of dead!    I woke up in the middle of an operation...all I can tell you is that I've never experienced so much pain.  Thank God I could move and scream to alert the doctors.  My worst nightmare is being operated on, feeling every little move of the surgeon, without the ability to move, scream, alert anyone that I'm being tortured. I imagine I'm not the only one.


Controversies in the Determination of Death: A White Paper by the President's Council on Bioethics

How to revoke organ donation consent by state

Horror as patient wakes up in NY hospital with doctors trying to harvest her organs for transplant profits

An 8-year-old was taken off life support, his organs donated. Now, police are investigating

Full Court Document filed regarding lawsuit regarding coroner's office and 8-year old taken off life support to get his organs

Surgeon Accused of Speeding a Death to Get Organs

Ruben Navarro Civil Case Filing:

Doctor Cleared of Harming Man to Obtain Organs

Can Brain Dead Patients Respond?

"Brain Dead" Patient Begins Breathing During Surgery After Liver Removed and Other Horrific Accounts:
There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Now, mostly dead … is slightly alive."


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