Killing for Organs

This article was published on Wesley Smith's blog on July 28, 2015.

By Wesley Smith

Wesley smith

Wesley smith

We are a society of public policy promise breakers. Advocates for radical transformations in law and culture promise their proposed changes will be constrained and regulated by strict guidelines. 

Then, when the policy becomes law, it is often Katy bar the door and the old promises are forgotten. 

That pattern has not played out with organ transplant medicine. Yet. 

Not for lack of trying. Many in bioethics and the transplant field want to break the important promise solemnly made that vital organs would only be taken from patients who are dead. This is known as the “dead donor rule.” 

But with the backlog of organs growing due to fewer catastrophic brain injuries and improvements in transplant medicine, the utilitarians want to make the dead donor rule dead (as I have written about often over recent years). 

The latest promise breaker pusher is Walter Glannon, a Canadian bioethicist, writing in the philosophical journal Aeon. First, Gannon says honoring patient choice to be killed and harvested is more important than that the patient actually be dead first. 

Glannon has a whole list of people who could be killed for their organs. First sophistry, taking kidneys before death, and pretending it doesn’t actually cause death. From the piece

In a protocol developed by the transplant surgeon Paul Morrissey at Brown University in Rhode Island, for instance, kidneys can be taken from patients while they are alive because doing this does not cause brain death or heart death. Death is declared after the kidneys, and then life-support, are removed. This scheme applies only to kidneys, though, and is thus limited. 

I was unaware this is happening. If so, “scheme” is the right word since it is crass sophistry that pretends that the taking of the kidneys would not cause death. Ironically, kidneys don’t deteriorate as fast as other organs. So, this seems to me a gambit to destroy the DDR. It should be stopped. 

Glannon next wants to kill and harvest those who are diagnosed as persistently unconscious like Aerial Sharon–and Terri Schiavo–mentioning that a few wake up, but omitting that about 40% of such diagnoses are later proven wrong.

Link to the full article