We are urged by public service announcements and marketing campaigns
to be organ donors. State drivers licensing facilities make that easy
with a check mark on their forms, so your license identifies you
immediately as a donor. But that’s a dangerous thing to do…

Without exaggeration, listing yourself as an organ donor can lead to an early death. Americans are right to be wary.

A poll has come out about the public’s attitudes toward
organ donation that allegedly shows us as ignorant and unduly
distrustful of the system. I think this requires a closer look. From
the story “Lingering Myths Discourage Organ Donation”:

“Only 38% of licensed drivers have joined their states’ organ donor
registries, with many deterred by long-held misconceptions about how
the transplant system works, according to poll results released in
April. The survey of 5,100 American adults, conducted on behalf of the
organ-donation advocacy group Donate Life America, found that:

50% think that registering as organ donors means physicians will not try as hard to save their lives.”

Perhaps that is because people realize that medical ethics have
taken a distinct utilitarian turn in recent years, what with futile
care theory and health care rationing in the offing. Knowing that
people with severe cognitive disabilities are being disdained by some
as “non persons” and looked upon as potential natural resources, adds
to the fear. It is unreasonable to expect folk to compartmentalize
organ donation from the rest of the problems with health care.

Another poll finding:

“26% believe that patients determined to be brain dead can recover from their injuries.”

Perhaps that is because the criteria utilized to declare death by
neurological criteria are not uniform throughout the country and in at
least a few cases, supposedly brain dead people “woke up.” Also, too
many people in the media use the term “brain death” far too loosely,
such as calling Terri Schiavo brain dead, when, before she was
dehydrated to death, she was clearly alive.

Clear to anyone who looks at the facts. Wesley picks just one example to illustrate:

The title of the piece is, “South Korea Court Grants
‘Right to Die.” Huh? If someone is already dead–which is what brain
dead is–how can she be described as “terminally ill” and granted “a
right to die?” (This case is really about the right to remove unwanted
life-sustaining treatment.) Also the children say this will relieve
their mother’s pain. But if she’s in pain, she isn’t dead. (And if
she’s truly unconscious, she’s not in pain.)

Right. Apply logic. Exercise caution.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....