Harvesting Organs for Organ Transplant Without Permission

Human organs for transplantation are scarce resources. There are many in our society who will certainly die prematurely unless certain organs are transplanted in a timely fashion. Transplantation can be considered a benefit for both the individual recepient and for society. If the recepient is able to live and/or function better society may be served by their productivity.

Donation of an organ by a living person to one in need may pose an immediate and long-term risk to the donor. Using organs obtained from dead patients poses no risk to the donor though may involve some logistical problems.

Since the number of donated organs from both living and dead persons is proportionally very small compared to the need, there have been suggestions made about how to obtain more. One suggestion is that there should be laws which require that organ harvesting should be carried out on all deceased persons regardless of whether that person offered to donate or the family approved.

Here is the question:

In order to obtain enough organs to be transplanted into needy patients, should laws be passed which allow organs to be obtained from persons who have died without the prior permission of the patient or any permission of the family?

If you have an answer (or another question), click HERE and e-mail me a response.

Date: Thu, Apr 15, 2004 1:24 PM From: redmc90@yahoo.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

hello i am a student in 8th grade my name is matt and i was doing a report on harvesting organs when i stumbled upon your accusation. i too beleive in god and christ but do not completely agree with your thinking. if someone is dying and needs an organ than why cant they come from a dead persons body that doesnt need it even if they never gave your permission in the taking of their organs it would still hopefully be in their best interests to save a persons life. again why is this a problem for you and please dont tell me this is just waht you believe.


Date: Wed, Mar 10, 2004 4:55 PM From: merlin1@velocitus.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I'm gonna have to say that even though it seems inhumane, organ harvesting may be necessary. Think about it, if you had a close family member dying because they couldn't get a organ, would you rather let them die or take an organ from a person who was already dead? Obviously you would pick option number two. Because you don't want your family member to die. However, I also think that maybe the family of the donor should have to give some kind of permission, but only if the organ is not neccesary to live. If it is an organ that is required for survival, I think no permission should be required. P.S. IF INHERITANCE IS INVOLVED, I URGE THE FAMILY TO JUST LET THE ORGAN REQUIREE DIE.

Date: Tue, Apr 8, 2003 3:45 PM From: jaliffi@comcast.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I do not agree with the idea of harvesting organs from patients without their consent or their family's consent. Who are we as medical professionals if we cannot help respect the rights and spiritual concerns of our patients. I agree that we do need more organ donors however, does the good of many override the good of one? Also I work in an Intensive Care Unit and have seen numerous organ harvestings take place. The person who said "I have read other articles giving grim descriptions on squirming bodies as they are still alive when the harvesting takes place, and find this quite disturbing. " this is wrong. It is my understanding from the Director of Organ Retrieval that they must have a confirmed diagnosis of Brain Death before any organs can be harvested, ( If I am wrong with this interpretation please let me know.) This is not like the Urban legend where the business man meets a women in a bar and wakes up in a tub with ice around him and a grim note stating call 911 before you die because his kidney is gone. We live in a democratic society where we all have the right to decide what happens to us during and after death. I personally am an organ donor and have educated my family and friends to that fact so that there is no misunderstanding about what I want to be done with my body after death. I believe that we should concentrate on educating the masses as to the benefits of organ donation instead of leaving this important decision to be made by one person who does not know what the patient really wants.

Jenny Aliffi JAliffi@comcast.net

Date: Mon, Apr 7, 2003 2:55 PM From: bdscott36@netscape.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

After losing my best friend because there was no compatible liver early enough available, my opinion on this matter changed. I believe that many people are to afraid to make the right decision in favor for organ donation because they think doctors would let them die earlier than people without organ donation permission. Education on this matter is essential, so that there is no doubt about the correctness of the proper procedure. if more organs could be harvest early enough, many lives could be saved. Having the permission prior to organ harvesting is probably the only correct and legal way right now, but I think that taking those organs without this permission should be taken into consideration. At the end it is our body that rises to heaven. Our body will stay behind, and this body could still save many lives.

Date: Thu, Nov 7, 2002 10:05 AM From: JUICY JKB@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think its wrong harvesting organs without permission. If the person who died said they could have an organ then that will be convenient. But harvesting organs without permission its wrong. For one it isnt your organ and it is not up to you to do that. You should ask permission. I would donate an organ to anyone in my family and if somebody who i didnt know needs it badly, but they would have to have permission. Why would you not want to ask permission? This is a very serious case and to think that there are people out there who will not ask permission is unfair.

Date: Wed, Oct 16, 2002 9:26 PM From: s_lel@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I wanted to reply to the organ harvesting debate, as a college composition paper has sparked my interest in this subject. I believe that organ harvesting is a wonderful gift for someone to give. If the possible donor has not determined if they either want to donate or be kept whole, I think it should be completely up to the overseeing doctor to decide whether the organs are valuable enough to donate, and whether or not to donate them. I have read other articles giving grim descriptions on squirming bodies as they are still alive when the harvesting takes place, and find this quite disturbing. However, if it is not possible to save this possible donor from certain death, I think it should be mandatory to donate, AS LONG as it is not otherwise stated in a living will. I also believe everyone should be required to have a will after the age of 18, even if it is just a living will.

This is a very touchy subject, but by allowing people's grieving families to make this decision for someone when they are completely consumed by the death of the possible donor, the deceaseds wishes are many times not carried out. People should keep in mind that if they want to donate, SIGN your driver's license and make it very clear to your family of your wishes...Keep an updated living will and make certain all family memebers have agreed to carry out your wishes!!

Thank you for your time, Steph

Date: Wed, Sep 25, 2002 10:42 AM From: crti@voyager.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

My main concern is not about whether an organ "donor" or next of kin gives consent, but whether or not the "donor" is really dead. As one responder said, her son's organs could not be used because he was dead already! Is it the removal of organs that changes a living person into a dead body? Anyone familiar with the moment of death knows that a dead person does not grimace or squirm. Yet, this is what happens when the surgeon makes the incision to remove a so-called "brain dead" donor's organs. The donor's body reacts by moving, grimacing and squirming, unless given a paralyzing drug. Due to the protests and strong reactions of medical personnel (who are upset to see the supposed "corpse" move), transplant surgeons have come to rely on such drugs to suppress signs of life. Even then, there is an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. The heart continues beating until the surgeon stops it a few moments before cutting it out. Informed consent is the real issue. Shouldn't people being asked to sign donor cards and potential donors' relatives be told the whole truth about the organ transplant process BEFORE making a decision?

Sincerely, Julie Grimstad, Director Center for the Rights of the Terminally Ill

Date: Fri, Sep 6, 2002 6:31 AM From: n.long@centralservices.co.uk To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I don't believe in the validity of harvesting organs for transplant without permission. My reasoning for this is that as far as I can tell (and no one seems to have addressed this issue here) organs are only viable for harvesting if the body from which they are being harvested is only clinically or brain dead and not completely dead. Is it not true that once the heart ceases to beat the function of the organs rapidly deteriorates? In this case if the patient is on life support does the hospital not require permission from the relative to withdraw the life support? If they require permission to withdraw life support and they need to harvest the organs before removing the life support they would have to ask the relatives' permission to harvest the organs before life support was removed.

I think it should be up to the individual to decide whether they wish to donate their organs or not. The needs of society as a whole cannot override the rights of the individual as societal ideals are based on the ideals of the individuals that go to make up that society. If the needs of society override the rights of the individual, the ideals on which the society is based are rendered null and void.

We would all like to see disease and hurting stop all over the world, but to legislate that organs can be removed without the consent of the "donor" or the knowledge of the relatives of the "donor" denies the intrinsic rights that people have over their own bodies. If we can decide in wills how our bodies are disposed of after our deaths, then we must be able to decide for ourselves whether or not we wish to donate parts of our bodies to others.

Thank you for letting me share my views with you.

Date: Thu, May 2, 2002 8:27 PM From: ally_121@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Dear Dr. Mo, My name is Valerie Budahl. I am a student of Mrs. Lundberg's Advanced Biology class. We have discussed bioethical topics and chose topics to which we were interested in doing filementality projects on. My topic is illegal organ trafficking. I did research to find out the ethical debates of taking organs illegally. I weighed the advantages and disadvantages related to this type of organ transplants. This procedure may save a life or two, but I find it very unethical to kill convicts or infants just to save a life or two. I found some pretty gruesome information about grandparents selling grandchildren to the highest bidders in order for those children to be killed and used as organ donars. In my filementality I have added several links to help others discover the true origins of organs obtained illegally. Thank you for allowing me to share my opinion, I hope people will have more knowledge to go on after visiting my filementality page when making decisions about organ transplants.

Sincerely, Valerie Budahl

Date: Wed, Apr 3, 2002 10:58 AM From: CCROEL@webtv.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

In response to Susan Melton-Piper, Davis, CA, I'd like to point out a few things:

As of today, there are simply not enough medical services (including medicine) to meet the desires of the society. In the USA, distribution of the available supply goes to those who a willing to pay the most money for those services. Because emergency rooms are required by law to treat everyone who comes in the door, emergency rooms are in crisis.

In England, Government provides funding and triage is made by government officials; waiting in line is the principle method, but many needy patients must do without proper care; the system is in crisis and the supply of services is falling far behind even minimal standards.

Someone must pay for medical services, and when the suppliers are permitted to make a (what many perceive to be an "unconscionable") profit, the supply (barring monopolistic and other illegal manipulation of the "market") tends to increase. So far, while the "distribution" of medical care seems to be terribly inequitable on occasion, over all, there is more and better care available here than anywhere else (or so I have been told).

The inequitable distribution can be largely corrected by government providing of money to the needy and by charitable contributions. HMO's do not, and probably cannot, fund all "needed' care (especially organ transplants). But in any event, it seems likely there will always be people who need services which will not be given to them. When Medicare was first enacted, if all the care persons over 65 WANTED were given to them, there would have been no care available for anyone under 65.


There would be no shortage of organs if: the deceased were presumed to have consented to the donation, and only specific objection by "loved ones" prevents the use of organs. This is the system used in Belgium, where they have a surplus of organs. Since the only "pain" suffered by 'loved ones" comes from LEARNING of the salvaging, I would permit salvaging in all cases, while keeping the actual donations confidential.

What seems to be missed in many cases, is the fact the emotions of "loved ones" takes so much precedence over the feelings of patients who are dying and who desperately want to live.

Date: Wed, Mar 27, 2002 4:30 PM From: DustiLLucas@cs.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

My answer is NO. You should have permission to obtain the organs legally. I do not believe there will be any law that will pass making it legal to take organs with out permission.

Date: Mon, Mar 25, 2002 6:56 AM From: roberts.j@insightma.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I am currently writing a Argument Paper FOR organ harvesting. My son had a liver transplant. Through our 5 years of many hospitalizations, I saw many kids die because an organ couldn't be procured in time. This is my experience with one pediatric transplant center, but this is happening all over the United States - NEEDLESSLY.

There are currently 88,000 people listed for organs. The US annual mortality in the year 2000 was 2,404,598. Even disqualifying 50% of those for transplant and then another 20% to accomodate people who will not donate due to religious beliefs, that still leaves 721,379 possible donors. My math may be off as far as reasons possible donors would be unacceptable, but there are more than enough possible donors available to help the 88,000 people listed.

Jennifer L. Roberts

Date: Sat, Mar 16, 2002 9:24 AM From: smelton@davis.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Although a scientist, I totally disagree with organ/tissue harvesting without consent of the next of kin. My primary reason for disagreeing is the price we put on the process. I am not an organ donor at this time due to the political nature and the "price tags" placed on human life. The current system does not allow for the most needy patient to receive the organ, it is whether or not the patient has money to pay for the services, adequate insurance or any insurance at all. Unless we develop a system that allows everyone fair access based on medical and scientific reasoning rather than ability to pay, I and my family will refuse to be organ donors despite the fact that I believe in the life-saving measures of it.

Susan Melton-Piper, Davis, CA

Date: Mon, Jan 7, 2002 12:59 PM From: AnG da Angel623@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think there should be a law that says if you DO NOT sign anything than your organs can be donated, but if you choose not to donate you have to sign that on your lisence. I think donating organs is a good thing because it can save lives. If you take organs from a dead person, I don't see a problem at all.


Date: Sun, Oct 21, 2001 8:02 PM From: lttyates@bellsouth.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

It would not be respectful to just take a persons organs without their permission. It would of course be offensive to the family, if they did not agree to have their loved ones organs donated. I could not imagine someone taking my organs. I do believe in organ donation, I just haven't made that kind of committment for myself yet.

Date: Thu, Jun 28, 2001 9:20 PM From: TulsaBaby1@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think if there is a relative or responsible to make the decision of donation then they should make that decision. However, if the physican ameks the determination that there is irreversible brain death and there is not anyone available to make that decision, it would seem that that patient could become a ward of the state and give the doc the right to decide the issue. There needs to be more education the the average consumer about this issue so that it can be addressed in their medical records.

R.Cobb, RN

Date: Tue, May 1, 2001 8:59 PM From: ren_gibb@hotmail.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Hi! I am a Nursing student from Tasmania, Australia. I am Currently doing an assignment on wether or not a person actually owns their organs. Or if Doctors should be allowed to remove a persons organs after death for any reason with out the permission of the decesed person. One question that has been raised is, does it actually mater the person is dead? Also, If the person who has died no longer needs those organs then wouldn't it be better to then use them for the furtherance of another persons life or for research to find cures and preventions of diseases.

It is a question with no clear answers. I believe that it is a persons choice to decide wether or not to donate their organs and that the government should not be able to force a person to give up their organs. There a number of reasons that a person may refuse, and doctors need to be sensative to a persons religious and/or personal beliefs.

There is definatly a need for better education on the issuses surrounding death and organ donation, with better education may be more people that are willing to donate their organs.

R. Gibb, Tasmania, Australia

Date: Thu, Jan 11, 2001 8:11 AM From: sandy@isaacs.mv.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

1. We are losing confidence in our doctors' unbiased ability to make decisions based primarily on the patient's best interests. 2. Higher technology medicine such as neonatal and transplants seem to me to be primarily for the benefit of the medical intellect and research interests, not for the society as the costs in my mind outweigh the societal benefits. As Mass General trustees decided decades ago when they refused authorizing heart transplants as consuming too much hospital resources for the benefit of too few.

Date: Mon, Oct 30, 2000 3:36 PM From: sk4711@gmx.de To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think let dead people automatically become organ donors is not right. I think MUCH MORE education on organ donation is needed. I, myself, as a recipient (cornea, both eyes) had problems to find the needed information. Well my doctor told me, but to find information which is official there for everybody is very rare. The major problem is that most people don't know what exactly is meant when talking about translantation, oh, I mean they don't know about the laws, privacy policy e.t.c.... I know from people around me, that there is only very rare knowledge about organ donation, some of them even believe in the bad myths, such as that one saying " if you go to hospital and there is a need for organs they would let you die". Such myths need to be eliminated! I conclude that people should say on their own if they want to become donors or not, BUT they should be better educated on all the issues.

Sandy K.

Date: Fri, Oct 6, 2000 7:47 PM From: nwilliams@GLENOIT.COM To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I believe that the harvesting of organs in order to save lives is a good thing. However, I don't believe that the government should get involved in making these decisions for us. The individual has the right to determine the fate of his or her own body and organs. I believe this concept is as basic as breathing and sleeping. And too, when has money ever been spent to educate and inform a society on the benefits of any wise health care choice that actually had any real substance? I believe that money should be poured into these "technological wonders" that shows real promise today - the creation of organs from cell tissue. If you can clone a functioning, healthy organ which a dying person could use, why not do it? Is this playing God? Not any more than taking an organ out of a dead body and putting it into a living one to extend that life. In this manner you could still make organs available to all and paid for through medical insurance. The selling of organs to the highest bidder does not become an issue and once again the rich would not benefit through the neglect and suffering of the poorer segments of society. If someone is willing to make a sacrifice to give the gift of life, that gift should not be diminished by making it available only for those who can afford to pay the price. When you take such a benefit away from an entire segment of the population, you actually say that these people don't matter, that they are disposable and of no consequence. When a society does this to the most vunerable of all, its decline has already started. Our lofty ideals and perceived sacrifices don't mean anything if we, as human beings and citizens of this Earth, do not consider everyone of equal value with equal rights to health care and well being.

N. Williams, North Carolina

Date: Fri, Oct 6, 2000 5:48 PM From: Rustyp37@aol.com To DoktorMo@aol.com

I am a Registered Nurse, a wife, daughter and mother of two. I agree there is a definite need for organs for transplant. I do not agree that organs should be taked without consent. Many people believe that the body needs to remain intact or the persons spirit life will be interfered with. I see it as an invasion of privacy if we take organs without consent. I'm not sure how we can reach people before their time of grieving to get them to become donors but I think that is where our focus should be. I have informed my family that I wish to be a donor when I die and I hope they will follow my wishes.

Date: Wed, Jul 26, 2000 9:08 AM From: dfentres@memphis.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I'm chairman of Citizens for Organ Procurement Rights, a Memphis TN based group which feels we could solve the organ shortage if people who are not willing to donate would be given the option of signing a futures contract to permit sale of their organs to the highest bidder in the U.S. when the brain dead condition occurs. Though this is prohibited by the 1984 Organ Transplant law presently, we believe this is an unconstitutional taking of private property (since we are not allowed to dispose of our organs as we wish), and we anticipate challenging that part of the law. Allowing such organs to be sold would increase the supply hugely and would only provide payment to the harvestee's estate, and only if the organs are useable. No coercion is involved, and next of kin would sign on to the contract in advance, thus disposing of the question of their consent after the death. Since the pact would be agreed to typically years before the death occurs, a record of the harvestee's health could be maintained, resulting in an even better quality of organs than may currently be the case.

My name David F. Diamond, my email (dfentres@memphis.edu) and snailmail address (4976 Kimball Ave, Memphis TN 38117) and phone #: 901 761-5577

Date: Thu, May 4, 2000 11:08 AM From: smyrnami@pathwaynet.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

My son died while very young, and we wished for his organs to be donated. We were told it wasn't medically possible to harvest organs from a dead person, the person had to be alive, at immanent death, brain dead, or etc....... While we wanted something good to come of our loss, our understanding was he wasn't a candidate because he was already gone. In answer to your question, no, I don't believe anyone should have the right to harvest organs without consent. I do believe we need to better educate the public regarding the needs of organs and the circumstances in which a person is a candidate for organ donation. Personally, I believe when we have finished with our bodies, they are of no use to us, and could be of great use to those we leave behind. But, I do not believe any government should dictate a decision such as this. There are many religious and personal beliefs that would contradict organ donation, we have a right to make that decision for ourselves. In my opinion, the best course of action to further the cause of organ donation would be to educate the public: make information available, provide an information center for questions and comments, discuss history of organ donation, and personal stories from people who have been involved in organ donation.

K. Pennock

Date: Thu, Apr 27, 2000 12:22 PM From: tde_smith@yahoo.com To: DoktorMo@ aol.com

With the shortage of organs in this country, you would think that perhaps someone would suggest implementing a presumed consent program. What presumed consent does is make everyone an automatic organ donor, unless they state otherwise. Presently, Belgium has this program implemented, and their need for organs has been reduced significantly since the progam began 10 years ago. One of the major advantages of this program would be the immediate access to organs once someone has died. There would be no need to gain prior consent, because it would already been assumed that consent was given. There are too many people in this country who die everyday due to the unavailability of organs. This program would significantly reduce that number. Just something to get people thinking about the importance of organ donation. No hassel, no paper work to fill out, because the assumption has already been made that a person is an organ donor. I personally think it is an excellent idea. It's too bad we probably won't see a program like that implemented in this country.

T. Smith, (RN student)

Date: Tue, Apr 4, 2000 7:49 PM From: Logfencepost@cs.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I am writting to you from Colorado. I am a BSN student and I am doing a debate on harvesting of organs. I am very sure that no one else but the patient should make the decission to donate their organs after death. I think that every doctor and nurse should encourage a individual to make the decission about donation before a situation occurs. I think this is something that we could add as a standard of care during physicals. Just like we ask about allergies and current medication, we would ask them how they feel or if they have ever considered donating their organs when they pass on. This would in hopes eliminate some of this turmoil over families, doctors etc... making the decission when truely it is the patients choice. I do think that in some situations, where the patient has not voiced their opinions and the family chooses to donate, then I think that they are acting as the loved ones advocate and are doing what they think is best for that patient and are doing what the patient would have wanted done.I do not think that it is by any means the medical staffs place to decide if the patient donates after death. If you have any information or good sources to help me along in my debate, feel free to write me at: logfencepost@hotmail.com

Thanks, Dena Banta

Date: Sun, Apr 2, 2000 1:04 PM From: bbergero@mesastate.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Hello. I am a student in nursing school and we are studying different ethical issues. I am responding to the article on "Harvesting Organs for Organ Transplant Without Permission." I think people have a right to be in charge of what happends to their body after they die, therefore I do not agree with harvesting organs of the dead without their permission even though the country is in need. What health care workers could do instead would be to educate the population more on organ donation. With more incentive such as knowing how much one may help someone in need may change the minds of some before they die. Telling loved ones of the decision is a big part of the problem too. Without anyone else knowing what a person wants is not helping anyone.

Sincerely, Becky

Date: Wed, Mar 29, 2000 7:31 PM From: IbarraAE@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aool.com


Date: Thu, Feb 24, 2000 6:00 PM From: Dixon_18439@email.msn.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

To me a person is dead when he or she can no longer take can of themselves.when a person brain can on longer tell his or her body to what to do without the assistance of machines then this person is already dead. He cannot speak or do any of the thing he once did but may at that point he or she can give the last gift they have, their heart, kidney,liver or what ever is health and need. that what I think.

Date: Mon, Feb 21, 2000 4:17 PM From: MRobcor@cs.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I believe that once a person is pronounced brain dead that they are truly dead. I believe at that time the client's organs should be utilized to help someone in great need of them and that the brain dead person be able to die a peaceful dignified death. I work with a population where many of my clients are basically brain dead with no quality of life and it saddens me that they can't pass on and provide someone else with their good organs.


Date: Wed, Feb 16, 2000 3:53 PM From: Tarin@goplay.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Dear Dr. Mo, My name is Tarin Broksieck, and I am writing you from Deuel High School in South Dakota. I have researched the topic "harvesting of organs". I have found a lot of information, which helps me to agree with organ harvesting in some circumstances. I believe that doctors and even relatives should not be allowed to decide if a person should donate their organs or receive donated organs. I think that the decision should be left up to the individual. Doctors do not have the right to take anyone's organs without that individual's permission. This is all true, but also, individuals should be encouraged to donate their organs. It is an opportunity to save someone's life or even a few lives. Therefore, I believe that organ harvesting and donating is a positive thing, because it gives people the chance at life. Sincerely,

Tarin Broksieck

Date: Mon, Feb 14, 2000 11:26 PM From: TLageman@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Presumed consent, legalized organ harvesting, bottom line is a vehicle for the liberal guardians of society to legalize his or her agendas. There is no medical atheists, healthcare provider, bureaucrat or other modern hodo going to tell me what my obligation to society or my fellow man is or will be. I will make this decision. No, there should not be any law. For the benefit of our liberal readers, I carry a living will which speaks for me when and if I am not able to. It specifically forbids harvesting of any of my body parts, this cannot be overridden by my family or medical institution.

T. Lageman

Date: Sat, Jan 22, 2000 6:11 PM From: Phlsburydoughboy@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think that that it would be ok to harvest patients organs ONLY if there is permission, or if no one is left that could say no...like if the patient was the only one left in his family and he had no friends.

Date: Tue, Oct 5, 1999 6:40 PM From: PaganDenMa@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I do not believe in harvesting of organs without permission of the family or without evidence of the deceased being an organ donor (i.e. by driver registration or in their living will, etc.) I work in Transplant Surgery and am well aware of the severe shortages of viable organs for transplant, but I believe that education of potential donors (especially where living donors are a possibility) is vital. Also, I think that providing incentive in the form of death/funeral benefits for an organ donor after harvest is a wonderful idea (I believe Pennsylvania is offering this). I work at the University of Maryland, and we have a highly developed living donor kidney program that is helping to take some of the edge off - but that's only for one organ. And living donor liver transplants are more dangerous - both patients end up in the ICU after the operation. Living donor pancreas transplants (islet cells) are still coming out of the experimental stages. And as for heart and lung - well that's another story. But no, I definitely think the concept of informed consent applies here. No harvesting without consent!

Date: Thu, Sep 9, 1999 4:36 AM From: jmarty@netspace.net.au To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I believe that once you are dead, that you may as well try to help someone else live. What harm is this going to do to the family or to the dead person? You can't tell me that the family are actually going to 'do' something with the person once they are dead?

Regards, Allison

Date: Fri, Jul 9, 1999 8:34 AM From: lifeadvo@spiritone.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Presumed Consent, taking organs without the express permission of a person or his family members is a barbarity that society ought to reject. Why do I call it a "barbarity"? Is it because I am anti-organ or tissue donation? That would be too simplistic. I call it barbarism simply because such legislation has the effect of making human persons merely a product or resource of the state's will. The state manages water, forest, and other "resources," and so human beings are just another product to be controlled.

Date: Mon, Jun 21, 1999 9:16 PM From: WAnde10258@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I do not believe that the organs should be taken from a dead body without prior permission from the person or their family. I think the key here is education and getting the word out about being a donor. There are many ethical issues that are faced when this issue is brought up. What if that person's religous beliefs conflict with using body parts, etc. Although I would gladly give my organs now (the ones I could spare) or when I am dead, it does not mean that the government should impose on already hurting families, delay barriel and then take organs without permission. This is very wrong. There has got to be another way!!! I also believe that forcing organ donation would create huge problems. What about organs on "the black market", can you imagine what kinds of things would be happening if you needed an organ, found a match and accidently on purpose made it that you would get that organ. Or maybe a family member of yours did that in a desperate attempt to save your life. Things would just get out of hand. It needs to be a choice. Also, I think that if I were awaiting an organ donor, I would want them to be willing to help and not forced.

Date: Wed, Dec 2, 1998 7:41 PM From: Cutie 6852@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think that the if the family or if the deceased person doesn't want them to have their organs they shouldn't touch them. If this new biotechnology that I heard about in the newspaper works(creating whole organs by using one cell) we won't have to worry about this issue hopefully.


Date: Fri, Nov 20, 1998 1:12 PM From: bogie@anv.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

While I do believe that organ donation is the most generous sacrifice an individual can make, it just is not working. Look at the numbers-the WAITING list grows but the DONOR list does not increase at the same pace. Educating people is not the answer. We must be realistic and look at the best solution--the SALE of organs! I know it defies all morals and ethics, but it is realistic- ex: John is dying and is offered $--- for his liver. This is money his family could use. Two matching recipients are notified-one has money for the liver and the other does not. The one with the money get the transplant. My point is that John is not a donor and without the sale, both would still be waiting. Now one is saved, the other does not have to compete when a matching donation shows up, and Johns' family receives some funds they would not have otherwise. And no one knows the financial status of Johns' family. Perhaps his death put a tremondous financial hardship on them.

Date: Tue, Jun 30, 1998 7:25 PM From: follisj_98@yahoo.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I am a student at the University of Missouri. Regarding your question as to whether or not to retrieve organs from deceased patients without consent, it is my belief that retrieving organs without consent violates the ethical principle of autonomy. People have the right to make choices regarding their own health care. Should we assume that since they are dead that they have given up that right? I think a better alternative is to focus on educating the living to make their wishes known before they die. Don't get me wrong, I am all for donation of tissue and organs, i just believe that informed consent should be obtained first.

Date: Tue, Jun 2, 1998 1:44 PM From: DTRF@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Hello. I am a nurse from Florida and hold several certifications and am also a paramedic. I have read the organ donation senerio and personally feel, after harvesting several patients, that one must need permission. I had gotten into some "trouble" after caring for a head injuried victum, young male whom had become brain dead. He was listed as a John Doe and three law enforcment agencies where (so they say) trying to find family. I finally found family on the 11th hour. The patient would have become an organ donor due in fact that in Florida, the organ donation agency can petition the court for organs after three days if the patient's family is not found and the patient remains a "Doe". I am pro organ donation, but not in this matter. If one can choose to abort a fetus, one can certainly choose to donate organs. If the person can not verbalize or otherwise make an informed consent (or family member) then the patient should be left as is. Thank you for your time and have a nice day. Pardon any typing errors sir. I do like your web site and plan on reading it frequently, thank you

Date: Fri, May 15, 1998 9:22 AM From: sheilac@kalama.doe.Hawaii.Edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think it's alright for dead persons organs to be obtained because their dead already. Why not give somebody a better life if your not going to use what they need anymore. It's good to have permission, but sometimes not all people have a chance to give permission. I think you should always do the best for people. If that's what it takes, give it away. Your dead already! ....

I feel that yes they should ask for permission before just taking the organs. Because if you take someones organs without permission thats stealing. They should get arrested for it. Even if their dead it don't matter they should ask permission first.

Date: Mon, Apr 20, 1998 5:47 PM From: nforton@wcnet.org To: DoktorMo@aol.com

It doesn't matter if you have given permission while you are alive if your family disputes the issue they won't harvest.


Date: Thu, Apr 2, 1998 4:13 PM From: et1cindy@epix.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

No, organs should not be take without prior premission from the patient or family. What would keep a persons wishes to be inturned intact? I do believe that more people need to be made aware of the benifits of donating but we (society) need also be made aware of who pays what costs. Why should the recipient be charge large sums of money for organs that were dontated. Why should the family be charged for the removal of the organs. Money talks.... I think more could be done with this issue.

Date: Wed, Mar 18, 1998 3:30 PM From: jjordan@preferred.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I believe that organ donation is very important. It helps many people. When you die you have no use for your organs so why not help someone who aren't as fortunate. Many people believe that it is wrong for religious reasons and that is their opinion . I am not the one to judge whether or not it is right or wrong. The only thing I know is that a person I knew died and his eyes were used to help some young teenage boy to see. I think that is wonderful. Someone who was deprived of never seeing the beautiful world and all it colors, now can. What a wonderful gift to be able to give someone! I just thought that I would share that experience with you.

Jessica Hendrickson

Date: Wed, Mar 18, 1998 7:44 AM From: rabdalla@ehc.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Anybody have to have freedom to decide. The Government should create new law to encourage and not to enforce organ donation. First of all they should look more to the illegal market, which makes people to not donate.

Regis Abdallah, Emory & Henry College, PO Box 677, E-mail: rabdalla@ehc.edu

Date: Tue, Nov 25, 1997 2:00 PM From: cgouthro@prodigy.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I don't think it is right for anyone to take anything that belongs to anyone else without their permission, in any case. Especially a case in which human life is involved. The whole point of becoming an organ donor and having an organ donor card is so that doctor's and family members will know what you want ahead of time. If a person dies without having a card or being a donor, they obviously don't want to be a donor and would not consent to donating their organs, even if they were alive. The main reason why there aren't enough organs to be transplanted is because people are afraid that if they are terminally ill, a doctor might figure that there is a shortage on organs, so they'll just let the patient die so they can use their organs. There is also the factor of informed consent. Even though the person is dead, does this mean that they are fair game for transplants? Because there is no prior permission given to the doctors, laws should not be passed that would allow organ harvesting.

Date: Tue, Nov 11, 1997 12:38 PM From: cpeters@ldgo.columbia.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I have what I think is a separate question related to the havesting of organs without permission. What happens to the placenta after birth? The tissue is the property of the mother, but I've heard that many OBS sell the tissue to researchers without consent.

Craig Peters (cpeters@ldeo.columbia.edu), voice: (914) 365-8826 fax: (914) 365-8150, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~cpeters

Date: Sat, Jul 26, 1997 1:35 PM From: DocReading@sprintmail.com (William H. Reading, MD) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

There should be no involuntary harvesting of human tissue. The principle of autonomy should govern. Allowing harvesting of tissue without permission does not allow the individual to keep dignity. Education of the public is necessary along with some expansion of harvesting to people who will die within hours granted that permission is obtained.

Date: Fri, Jun 13, 1997 9:12 PM From: jtpapworth@msn.com (John Papworth) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Doktormo, I think that this law you mentioned is great. Personally I would not mind if some one took one or all of my organs to save a persons life. Its almost heroic Giving your self to others, the gift of life. It's only ok if the person(s) are no longer in need of them ie dead or dying. I'm no doctor or college student with some fancy Ph.D. in medicine or something, just a kid studying Bio. Well that's all I've got to say.

Date: Fri, Apr 11, 1997 9:01 AM From: rbyrd@REX.RE.uokhsc.edu (Robert H. Byrd) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I think that in order to really consider this issue one needs to bring up the concept of "ownership" of our bodies. Without getting into any religious discussion of this subject, what does a family stand to gain by preserving the integrity of a loved one's body after they are dead? Whether a body is cremated or buried, the remains will eventually be returned to the earth, and how many of us go around looking at the dead bodies of our loved ones? Given the great deal of respect that donor bodies are treated with and the care that is taken to preserve as much bodily integrity as possible after harvesting (e.g. use of wooden prostheses, etc.), how much of a sacrifice is it really to allow the body of a loved one to be harvested for the immeasurable benefit of numerous other human beings? I think that if we as a society are even to consider the thought of using donated organs for needy recipients, then we must be willing to realize that the human respect, loving memories, and decent treatment of our loved ones is of utmost importance to those that harvest organs, and little is lost when we allow the more material and much less meaningful eyes, bone marrow, etc. to be respectfully removed from a body that we most likely will never see again - with the full intent of benefitting a large number of very ill persons. With the principle of beneficence in mind, refusal of families to "allow" their loved ones' organs to be removed, when, as stated above, the ratio of need is so ill-balanced, almost seems selfish. However, I do think that there will need to be great strides taken in medical ethics before we can allow the medical community to automatically "claim" organs from every potential donor.

Date: Wed, Apr 9, 1997 1:55 PM From: ANDJEFF@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I do not agree with harvesting organs without consent. I believe that everyone has a right to decide what happens to their body not only when they are alive but also when they are dead. I think instead of passing laws not requiring consent we need to concentrate on informing people of their options. Perhaps its not a lack of "common sense" but a lack of information.

Andrea, University of Oklahoma College of Nursing

Date: Mon, Apr 7, 1997 4:06 PM From: LBC7773@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I feel that organ donation is a wonderful thing that saves thousands of lives and fully intend on donating my own. However, although we are in need of more organ donation, I feel it is infringing upon the rights of the individual, dead or alive, to harvest his or her organs without consent. There are many reasons people choose not to donate, religious or otherwise, and we should honor that choice.

Date: Fri, Mar 28, 1997 7:16 PM From: Danny_Audet@UQTR.UQuebec.CA (Danny Audet) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Yes. One argument: If a person dies and wanted to be buried, it would be logical to take organs from the body: otherwise, it would be a waste and a mistake; that would legitimate risking the life of an individual for a few more days.... About family members who are against this idea, they simply don't have sufficient common sense.

Date: Fri, Mar 21, 1997 11:31 AM From: BSNRN2B@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I feel that the decision to donate my organs is completely up me, not my family or anyone else. This is something I want done because I know it can improve the lives of others after I have died. However, my family does not approve of this. There should be something implented similar to an advanced directive that allows for consent of donation, because once I die my family has the final decision to donate my organs. They do not have to follow through with my wishes if this is what they want. I do not believe there should be a law passed that allows for harvesting without permission because not everyone agrees with this action and that is there right and choice.


University of Oklahoma College of Nursing

Date: Thu, Mar 20, 1997 8:32 AM From: efought@fdldotnet.com (Eric S. Fought) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

What ever happened to the rights of the patient? I understand the increasing need for the harvesting of organs...however that need should exceed the right of the individual to govern his/her own body. Some people, for various reasons, religious and otherwise feel strongly about keeping their body intact. We need to respect that. Many people don't understand how to go about donating their organs at death. We need to market the possibilities better. And maybe, as someone else mentioned earlier, we could turn the tables, having those who don't want to donate sign the back of their drivers license. However, just going in and taking what you need is unethical and should not be explored further.

Date: Tue, Mar 18, 1997 6:12 PM From: joders@juno.com (Jodie L Ludwig) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I was reading comments regarding passing laws allowing the harvesting of organs without prior permission from the patient or family members. I feel that the passing of laws is taking the situation a little to far. I can understand the need or desire to harvest organs from a patient who has indicated the desire to donate on a driver's license, but harvesting without consent from the family would be wrong. Even though it is my wish to donate my organs if the situation arose, I would want my family to be consulted. I would want them to feel good about the decision because they are the ones who will live with the decision, not me. Some family members don't like the idea of their loved one 'dismembered' or 'mutilated' after death and these feelings must be taken into account. If the patient did not have family and every attempt was made to locate them, it may be different, but we should not harvest organs without making the attempt and getting consent. This is not a situation that should be handled by law makers. The way to alleviate the organ shortage is to educate the public about organ donation and educate people about talking to their family before the situation arises and letting their desires be made known to family members.


University of Oklahoma College of Nursing joders@juno.com

Date: Fri, Mar 14, 1997 9:54 PM From: Boo1175@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I have three points to make: 1) In making advanced directives, we are generally capable of effective deliberation (i.e., we are guided by reason, unhindered by emotion, and not coerced by others) which is in great contrast to a state of terminal illness, trauma, etc. 2) In answering the proposed question, maybe we should ask, "What is the ethical basis for the value given to autonomy?" 3) If you plan to donate your organs/body after passing on, it is important to be aware that signing the back on your drivers license is often not suffcient--family members need to be aware of your wishes.

Date: Wed, Mar 12, 1997 12:19 PM From: wweil@innovgrp.com (Bill Weil) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Since, in most areas of this planet, money talks, why don't we pay people to register as organ donors and incent them in this fashion? While I happily am donating mine, and hopefully not too soon, I imagine there are lots of people in dire need of money that, if asked, would be glad to get some cash while their alive in exchange for having their dead body be of use to others still living.

Forcing people to do this ain't gonna work. Too many people feel too strongly. If you want to spend your time and energy making a difference, don't argue with millions of people that are not going to change their minds; rather, figure out how to reach out to the millions on the fence, whom, with a decent campaign, could easily be swayed into donating their organs.

I also like the idea of "If you didn't have a card that said you object, you're in", but this will need to be reconciled with family members. If my 22 year old son dies, and didn't have a card, and I'm of the ilk that abhors the idea of organ donation, I'm going to put up a hell of a fight. Let's figure out how to accommodate this group as well.

Date: Tue, Mar 11, 1997 6:46 AM From: Rich 1945@aol.com To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Yes, as an individual working in a compassionate field of health care, I feel that any chance to give another human being the gift of life is a wonderful thing. Presumed consent takes this concept of choice away from each and every individual concerned. Brokering of harvested organs also takes away from a gift of love of human beings and adds a tone of mercenary taking of a person's loved one. As a health care professional I feel strongly that the emphasis needs to be on increasing the medical and general public on the reasons that organ donations have almost been cut in half over the past five years.

Date: Wed, Jan 29, 1997 8:23 AM From: jpieniadz@mindspring.com (John Pieniadz) To: DoktorMo@aol.com

no we should not allow that to happen. what we should do however is to start brokering organs.......a patient knows that they are dying and have a designated time left here on earth...we offer to buy the organs, this gives them a few hundred or thousand dollars to leave to their heirs or spend for the last fling....meanwhile we have a contract for the disposition of their organs which we can sell to the highest bidders....yes this sounds real morbid however when people are on their last leg they are willing to buy, even if it is a chance....we could even start selling organ insurance. morbid but almost reality.

Date: Tue, Jan 14, 1997 5:29 PM From: MMORITI1@ic3.ithaca.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Yes, Presumed consent laws should be enacted in the United States. Such a law should have opting out arrangements for those with religous or moral objections. This kind of automatic system would save time and save lives. Better methods of publicizing the need for donors need to be developed.

What can be done to lower the transplant organ need in poorer countries? What can be done to ensure that everyone has equal access to newly available organs? It is know that in the U.S. money and/or publicity has enabled some people to have an advantage over others? Is this right? Isn't the right to health care a basic human right?

Michele Moritis MMORITI1@ic3.ithaca.edu

Date: Fri, Nov 22, 1996 3:15 PM EDT From: gwest@emc.org To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I would like to see a law of "implied consent" that states that, unless a person has signed a form (driver's license, etc) against donating their organs, it is implied that they are willing to donate at their death.

Date: Thu, Nov 21, 1996 5:39 AM EDT From: prenella@uci.edu To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I believe that legislation concerning post-mortem organ harvesting should be enacted. Each donor would truly be doing a great service to society and it's sick. Best of all, it would greatly reduce the need for specific guidelines about who is to get which organ first. Furthermore, with more donors comes a higher probability that each potential recipient will find a good match. Clearly, this would serve the most amount of organ recipients, with no additional burden on society.

Date: Wed, Nov 6, 1996 12:14 AM EDT From: starfleet@taconic.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

I do think that after death, all usable organs should be harvested and distributed accordingly, however, if the family objected on religious or moral grounds, then that should be respected. I agree with the person who said that education could go along way in increasing the number of voluntary donations of organs, and then we would not have to be debating whether or not it is acceptable to just take them.

Date: Mon, Oct 28, 1996 7:34 PM EDT From: ctetmi@mchmeds.mchis.mcgill.ca To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Yes, I believe organs should be harvested everytime it is possible in order to benefit patients waiting for a transplant.

Date: Tue, Oct 15, 1996 8:15 PM EDT From: bkbf@worldnet.att.net To: DoktorMo@aol.com

Perhaps because of being raised in the USA, a "free" country I have a problem with taking organs from the deceased without the previous consent of family or self. I work in a dialysis unit and see the suffering and misery caused by lack of kidneys for transplantation. I myself have instructed my family that whatever usable organs/tissue left upon my death should be donated to whomever and the remains of my organic shell should be creamated, what was really "me" vacated this life with my last breath. They for the most part feel the same way.

If we as a nation would commit the financial resources to educating the people about this issue I don't believe we would need to pass laws to TAKE the organs. I feel that the organs would be given freely once people were educated. This may include pressing the individuals with organ failure into some community service hours. Exposure to people with organ failure may be the best form of education we could have. These are just 1 persons thoughts and feelings.

To read the results of the opinion poll taken here on this subject, please click here.

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