Skip to comments.Stop Harvesting Organs after ‘Cardiac Death,’ Say MDs
Posted on 09/16/2010 4:07:35 PM PDT by wagglebee
CALGARY, Alberta, September 15, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A group of doctors have called on the medical community to cease harvesting organs from patients whose hearts have stopped pulsating, saying that doctors are misleading families to believe that the patient has died when in fact their loved one is still alive.
The story was featured Wednesday on the cover of Canada's National Post.
A longstanding tenet of ethical organ donation [is] that the nonliving donor must be irreversibly dead at the time of donation, explain the eight paediatric intensive care specialists, writing in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine.
The doctors say that the publics underlying assumption when they agree to donate organs is that they are giving permission to have their organs removed after they are dead.
But the authors observe that death has been redefined in the last few decades to meet the demand for more organs. They say organs were originally taken from cadaveric donors who died in the conventional way, irreversibly losing all electrical and mechanical activity from the heart (circulation) and all brain function, despite medical efforts to save them.
But this method of organ procurement created a problem for organ transplantation. If the patient died in the conventional way then, at the time of irreversibility, so did most organs.
The notion of brain death was created in 1981 in order to harvest more organs, they say. Then in 1991 the Pittsburgh Protocol was developed to allow doctors to harvest the organs of adults after a persons heart has stopped for a certain period.
The Protocol involves removing the person from life support for 30 to 60 minutes. If the patients heart continues to beat after that time, they are returned to the ICU, but if it stops for a prescribed period (around 2 minutes, though ranging from 75 seconds to 10 minutes depending on the jurisdiction), the organs are harvested.
No efforts are made to assess the patients brain function at the time of organ removal, the authors explain. The claim is that circulation has irreversibly stopped after 2 mins of observation.
But this ignores the many reports of the Lazarus phenomenon, where a patients heart starts again 5 to 10 minutes after CPR is performed. Such instances suggest that the heart function and circulation may not be irreversibly stopped in DCD [Donation after Cardiac Death] patients at the time of organ procurement.
The authors also point out that doctors desire to prolong lives through organ transplants can foster physician and institutional bias for the cardiac death criteria.
While opposing the notion of "cardiac death", the authors accept organ harvesting following "brain death". Opponents of "brain death" point out that organs can only be harvested when the organ's functioning continues, meaning that the donor is still showing signs of life. They say that if the person is truly dead, the unpaired vital organs cannot be transplanted. In particular, "brain death" has allowed heart transplants, but the heart is only useful if it is still beating in the donor.
Akin to the "Lazarus phenomenon" noted by the authors, there have been numerous instances of patients recovering following a declaration of "brain death".
The National Post interviewed Dr. Ari Joffe, the sole Canadian author of the controversial document, from Stollery Childrens Hospital in Calgary. I think that were being less than entirely honest about when the patient is truly dead, he said. Were not trying to deny the parent the choice to donate The point were making is what if theyre almost dead and were not sure if theyre dead, and its not at the point of irreversibility yet?
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Melbourne Doctor: Most Donors Still Alive when Organs are Removed
New England Journal of Medicine: 'Brain Death' is not Death
Doctors Who Almost Dissected Living Patient Confess Ignorance about Actual Moment of Death
Doctor Says about "Brain Dead" Man Saved from Organ Harvesting - "Brain Death is Never Really Death"
Denver Coroner Rules "Homicide" in Organ-Donor Case
Russian Surgeons Removing Organs Saying Patients Almost Dead Anyway
Shock: Oxford Neonatologist Says Time Has Come to Consider Mandatory Organ Donation
That's because organ harvesting is a huge BUSINESS that preys on the emotions of the most vulnerable.
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If we want the healthiest organs for transplanting, why even bother with people who are dying? Why not just grab a jogger from the park?
I think most people would want to donate their organs, if there was any reasonable expectation that the doctors would wait until we’re done using them. Instead, the ghouls are becoming more and more impatient.
You didn’t read the article. If you are truly dead, your organs are useless for transplant.
Also, if you are over 30, they don’t want your organs anyway.
basically, it’s been a scam from the beginning.
Oh gee, I guess I’ve never read any of this before. LOL
Looks like you missed the point. And in case you were wondering, no, I don’t really think we should grab joggers from the park and steal their organs.
I was an organ donor until a transplant doc explained to me that if the body is dead in the conventional sense the organs are mostly worthless (lens and corneas do okay). So what actually kills the donor is the transplant team taking the organs. He told me this in 1989.
half your braincells have already been harvested, havn’t they?
I actually witnessed this ..A female pt of mine had no heart activity and was "coded" for about 15 min.. The Doctor called her death time, and went to notify the family and make out the paper work.. as I was removing the lines and washing her for the family to see..she had a seizure.. the doctor returned and cursed that he could not do the paper work.... The lady was sitting up and answering my questions following the seizure.. Today they would have grabbed her kidneys and corneas and maybe her heart.. I would NEVER sign a donors card.. Never
I will never sign a donor card. I have a medical directive that allows for my organs to be taken, but it is very specific regarding the definition of death and only allows for the donation if the hospital accepts my definition.
No oxygen and no red blood cells after a cardiac arrest.
I saw a Quincy TV show decades ago - even though they probably didn’t intend it, they made it clear that signing an organ donor card was playing Russian Roulette.
I have not only told everyone, but also included in my Living Will exactly how I feel about this.
If my organs did not work well enough to keep me alive, then they have no business being put in anyone else.
I personally went through this HELL in 2003.
One of my patients on cardiac telemetry showed a normal sinus rhythm even though there was no heartbeat or breathing for >10 mins. The patient was apparently dead, the family had been with him when he died, and he did not recover (cancer death). The ER doc, who came to the floor to pronounce him, waited, had a cup of coffee, read some charts, then when the ECG finally flatlined, wrote the time of death.
I think that the Lazarus syndrome, which has been well known for centuries if not millennia, is why babies who are apparently born dead may be validly baptized. Time of death is a very inexact determination, in my experience.