Knotty Musings

Ideas, philosophies, and evil plots to take over the world through love hatched here.

I Am Enough

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people
won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,

we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically
liberates others." ~ Marianne Williamson

Remove the Nots

Remove the Nots

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dying to Donate

In light of National Organ and Tissue and Donation Awareness Month, I thought I would present this information because it doesn't seem to be talked about anywhere else.

Here's a little exercise: Please take your driver's license out of your wallet and take a good look at the lower right hand corner. Do you see a heart and the word donor above it? How many of us have gone to the department of motor vehicles, smiled for the camera, and signed the necessary forms to become an organ donor?

According to
, accessed November 7th:

100, 375 persons are currently waiting for an organ.
January - July 2008 nearly 19,000 transplants performed

During that same time, there were 9,500 registered donors

Harvested organs benefit humanity and could be the ultimate recycling program.
After all, when we’re dead, what do we care what happens to our organs?

Nisha Mohammed, in the Importance of Being Human asserts: “It is what unites us all—being human.” But the evolution of science and technology have also changed the definition of what being human means. Abortion, euthanasia, organ harvesting, cloning, and stem cell research force us to treat life as a commodity. From the cost of our birth, to our ability to support ourselves or by what it costs to keep us alive, a bounty is on our heads. How much is your life worth to you or your loved ones? Your employer? Your government? And is your life worth as much as your death?

My research includes articles, interviews, and statistics and will reveal shortcomings in the definitions of death, the lack of a uniform procedure for determining death, and questionable ethics resulting in patients dying to donate, intentionally or unintentionally.

Do you need to be dead for your organs to be harvested? The answer to that question largely depends on who is defining death and what exactly death means. The medical community has created such terms as brain-death, vegetative state, circulatory death, neurological death, and anticipated time of death.

The problem lies in that there is no uniform determination of death. Two proposed acts authored by the American Bar Association and the American Medical Association have sought since 1981 to remedy the situation and to date have not been enacted in ANY state. The Uniform Determination of Death Act would define brain and cardiac death as:

(a) irreversible stoppage of circulatory and respiratory functions; or
(b) irreversible stoppage of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem;

The act does not deal with living wills, life saving measures, etc, instead referring those issues to the Uniform Organ Harvesting Act, revised in October 2007, which specifically deals with consent issues, and living wills, not defining death. Since no uniform definition exists, standards vary from state to state and hospital to hospital.

Dr. Paul Byrne, a brain death expert and former president of the Catholic Medical Association, laments the inconsistency of brain death criteria on

. Dr. Byrne asserts “Brain death was made up in order to get organs. It was never based on science. It is a theory open to abuse and should be treated with care. With numerous sets of brain death criteria, a person may be dead according to one set, and not dead according to another.”

How do we get more organs? By redefining death. First we used “brain death” to take organs from those on ventilators, then we wanted to remove organs even if non-conscious brain functions continued. That was achieved through donation after cardiac death, which relies on heart stoppage. Stoppage poses a number of problems: There is no moment of death. Some hospitals wait 5 minutes after the last heartbeat, others wait two, and a Denver team waits 75 seconds.

No time of death? Not a problem!! Have we got a deal for you! Science has thought of everything: Science arranges the time of death using “anticipated death”, which coordinates the removal of life support with the patient monitored for cardiac arrest and harvesting. Dr. Robert Truong, a medical ethicist, told the New England Journal of Medicine that failure to take and reuse body parts looks like lethal negligence.

Nancy Valko, R.N. writes in “Dying to Donate” downloaded November 8th, that “. . . misguided zeal for organs has led many ethicists and transplant experts to try to develop new ways of increasing organ donations, usually without public input or even awareness.

Among the strategies:

1. Changing organ donation rules requiring patient or family consent for donation to "presumed consent", which legally assumes that everyone is automatically willing to be an organ donor unless they have documented an objection to it.

2. Enforce organ donation if a person has signed an organ donation card, regardless of family objections.

3. Financial incentives for organ donation to increase the pool of potential organ donors, such as educational programs for promoting organ donation in schools, with a focus on teen drivers.

4. In 2003, Critical Care Medicine published an article by Drs. Robert D. Troug and Walter M. Robinson in which they stated "We propose that individuals who desire to donate their organs and who are either neurologically devastated or imminently dying should be allowed to donate their organs, without first being declared dead".

In his book Beyond Brain Death, Michael Potts asserts that it is wrong to cause the death of an organ donor in an operation not undertaken for his or her benefit.

It is true that harvested organs benefit humanity. It is true that these human beings are nearing the end of their existence. However, they MUST NOT be killed solely for the benefit of others deemed more worthy. To create a class of patients deemed “futile to care for” the vulnerable are placed at an even greater risk – the elderly, the mentally impaired, those in a persistent vegetative state, and infants with several birth defects.

If the medical community will not protect us, ignores the Hippocratic oath to “do no harm” and sees no problem with allowing death to be defined in any number of ways as long as it serves the purpose of sustaining life deemed more worthy, how do we ensure our needs are taken care of before the organ recipients’? We should pressure legislators, insurers, and the medical community to adopt clear cut standards for what constitutes death. In the meantime, however, each of us can begin to define what death means to us, put that definition into an advance medical directive, and keep that document where it can be accessed easily in a time of need.

At the risk of eroding public confidence in the worthy goal of organ donation, it is critical that the public be adequately informed about all the ethical issues and given an opportunity to have a voice in determining policies before simply signing an organ donor card can be considered truly informed consent. To quote Albert Einsten, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. “

Einstein, Albert. Brainy Quote. Nov. 4, 2008. <> Nov. 4, 2008.
Jalsevac, John. “Doctor Says about "Brain Dead" Man Saved from Organ Harvesting - "Brain Death is Never Really Death." Lifesite News. Mar. 27, 2008. <>. Nov. 3, 2008.
Kapralos, Krista J. “The Cost of Dying.” HeraldNet. Oct. 12, 2008. <>. Nov. 4, 2008.
Mohammed, Nisha N. “The Importance of Being Human.” Oldspeak. July 17, 2003. Nov. 3, 2008.
National Conference Of Commissioners On Uniform State Laws. “Uniform Anatomical Gift Act.” Oct. 24, 2007. <>. Nov. 8, 2008.
National Conference Of Commissioners On Uniform State Laws. “Uniform Determination of Death Act.” Feb. 10, 1981. <> Nov. 8, 2008.
Potts, Michael, Paul A. Byrne, and Richard G. Nilges. Beyond Brain Death. Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001. Google Book Search. <> Nov. 4, 2008.
Saletan, William. “Undead BabiesThe retreating boundaries of organ harvesting.” Oct. 3, 2008.
<>. Nov. 6, 2008.
Simkin, John. “Martin Niemoller.” Spartacus International. 2003. <>. Nov. 4, 2008.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. U.S. Government Information on Organ & Tissue Donation and Transplantation. Nov. 3, 2008. <>. Nov. 8, 2008.
Valko, Nancy, R.N. “Should We Be Dying to Donate?” Voices Online Edition. Vol. XX No. 1 - Eastertide 2005. <>. Nov. 3, 2008.


  1. Wow. I am an organ donor. I always think of that Monty Python movie "The Meaning of Life" where doctors came into the kitchen in a donor's home, threw her on the kitchen table, and proceeded to chop her up for her organs. I hope it doesn't come to that.
    Take Care

  2. I'm an organ donor too and I think it's a very worthy cause but I also believe that we need to have in writing and let our family know what death means to us because there is no standard of death for harvesting purposes. That leaves the process open to the potential for abuse, like it or not.