Donor Status as an Influence on Health Care

Apologies this wasn’t available before today’s tute: nothing much new here, but thought I’d post it just in case anyone was interested.  Cheers and have a great weekend!

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This section concerns the often informally discussed possibility that medical professionals might make a lesser effort to treat organ donors, as a means of culturing the patient’s body parts for future use sooner.

 

Medicare’s FAQ section pertaining to organ donation makes no mention for or against the perception that organ donors may receive limited care during a medical emergency; it is not clear whether this is due to the issue being insignificant, or as an obvious omission to prevent the perception seeding in the minds of potential donors.

 

The FAQ does point out that the cadavers of organ donors will not be used for medical teaching or research unless prior “specific explicit written permission” has been granted.  This excerpt from the Australian Government’s Medicare website denotes the circumstances in which organ donation can occur:

 

“In most cases, a person may only be able to donate organs where they have been declared brain dead in an intensive care unit in hospital. Brain death is when blood circulation to the brain ceases, and the brain stops functioning and dies with no possibility of recovery.  A series of tests carried out by two independent and appropriately qualified senior doctors establishes that brain death has occurred.

 

Less than 1% of all people who die in hospital each year dies in this way and therefore can donate their organs.

People are sometimes confused about the difference between brain death and coma. Brain death is completely different from coma. A patient in a coma is unconscious because their brain is injured in some way, but their brain can continue to function and may heal. Medical tests can clearly distinguish between brain death and coma.

Organ donation may also be possible after a person’s heart has stopped beating, referred to as “cardiac death”, but this is less common.”

 

The organ donation discussion on Act Now suggests these possible reasons for people opting not to donate:

·         Religious beliefs, such as the desire to be reincarnated with the body in one piece

·         Squeamishness about the idea of their organs and tissues being removed

·         Not knowing enough about organ donation to make an informed decision.

There is no direct reference to the perception that patient’s might be let die in order to harvest their organs, however this could be classed as an “uniformed” position, as included in point three.

 

The only reference I could find to organ procurement from the living is to be found on Wikipedia, under the subheading ‘scandals’:

 

Hootan Roozrokh, MD, of California has been charged with prescribing excessive doses of morphine and sedatives to hasten the death of a man with adrenal leukodystrophy and irreversible brain damage, in order to procure his organs for transplant.   The case being brought against Roozrokh is the first such case in the US.  [2008]

 

At California’s Emanuel Medical Center, neurologist Narges Pazouki, MD, said an organ-procurement organization representative pressed her to declare a patient brain-dead before the appropriate tests had been done.   She refused.”  [2007]

So it appears while there have been rare cases of accelerated deaths, they tend to concern patients with permanent and dramatic damage, that would render their quality of life almost nil.

 

Although I have often heard of verbal discussions on the issue, it was difficult to find any written mention of the apprehension some experience over becoming an organ donor – believing their lives may be ended prematurely out of greed for their organs.  Perhaps this is because it is a socially unacceptable or irrational fear – or both.  Either way, although many people may hold on to this reservation about organ donation, it seems unlikely to improbable that any medical professional would fail to act on a medical problem in the interest of saving others with the available organs.  Not only would the medical practitioner face severe litigation, but the organs collected would in all likelihood be unviable, unless of course the medical practitioner deliberately induced brain death…

 

References

http://www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/public/services/aodr/faq.jsp

http://www.actnow.com.au/Issues/Organ_donation.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organ_donation

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~ by pcl4 on July 18, 2008.

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