Monthly Archives: September 2016
Murder. It doesn’t get much dirtier than that. We’ll never know how many organ donors declared brain-dead could have recovered if given a chance. We do know that sometimes, perhaps very rarely, people recover from being in a state considered too far gone for doctors to offer any hope. Even if this hardly ever happens, we need to allow for this possibility when organ donation protocols are designed because it is certain that some organ harvesting operations kill people who might have recovered full function. In Texas, a man’s father pulled a gun on doctors who wanted to pull the plug on his son, saving his son’s life. Not only did the son survive a stroke, he is now fully recovered. This happy ending may not be the typical outcome of a traumatic brain injury, but it is possible and this possibility gives me the creeps when I think about what could happen to me or someone I love under such horrible circumstances.
I recently met a former colleague whose daughter-in-law was written off as an organ donor, and only kept alive in order to save the baby she was pregnant with. Nobody told Cliff how bad the prognosis was, so he kept talking to her, squeezing her hand and asking her to squeeze back for about a month before she responded. Unfortunately, she is now severely disabled because she was given no physiotherapy to prevent her muscles wasting away, so she can no longer walk. In addition, her short-term memory is shot and she can’t talk either because of the ventilator that the hospital failed to remove on a timely basis. A 2012 article in the Toronto Star seems to suggest that if Mary Archer had died, her family might be better off and fails to nail the hospital to the wall for compounding their mistake by adding injury to injury. Instead of providing for the intensive therapy that could help Mary regain lost function, they’ve been throwing money at expensive lawyers to deny their liability.
Mary Archer is the woman who should have died, but she didn’t and the hospital who failed her has a moral responsibility to do right by Mary and her family now. Since her very life is a rebuke to both the hospital and the multi-billion dollar organ transplant industry, keeping Mary in the hospital that nearly killed her, where she subsequently suffered several falls which may have caused further harm should have been viewed as a conflict of interest. Mary should have been moved to a top-notch rehab facility as soon as possible and given every opportunity to recover as fully as possible and Mary’s family should not have to pay for this. Justice demands this at a minimum.
The multi-billion dollar transplant industry needs revisit the protocols on the ethics of declaring someone brain-dead, because they are currently killing people who could have recovered. I’m not signing my organ donor card unless and until I have confidence that I won’t be murdered in ER.