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Reply #47: I read an article by a doctor/med school prof recently that upset me. [View All]

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DemBones DemBones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-02-07 02:30 AM
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47. I read an article by a doctor/med school prof recently that upset me.

This was the most shocking paragraph in the article:

Every set of criteria for "brain death" includes an apnea test. ("Apnea" means the absence of breathing.) This test, which has no benefit for the comatose patient and, in fact, aggravates the patient's condition, is done without the knowledge or consent of family members. The apnea test, during which the ventilator is turned off for up to 10 minutes, can induce "brain death" or cardiac arrest. Its sole purpose is to determine the patient's inability to breathe on his own in order to declare "brain death."

If a patient is dependent on a ventilator, and the ventilator is turned off for up to 10 minutes, it seems obvious to me that the intent is to cause brain death so that the person's organs can be harvested for transplant.

Doing it without the knowledge or consent of family members shows that doctors know it's wrong, know that no one would agree to have a loved one's ventilator turned off long enough to cause brain death.

Many patients are on ventilators for a period of time and recover completely. How many others whose organs were harvested would have recovered if the ventilator hadn't been turned off?

The 28 year-old son of a friend of mine had a brain aneurysm. The family was told he was brain dead within a few hours after he arrived at the hospital. He was an organ donor, really believed in organ donation, so of course they agreed to have his organs harvested. The hospital kept him alive for at least a week after declaring him brain dead in order to arrange for all the transplants. Now you know it costs a lot to spend a week in a hospital on a ventilator, with an IV, maybe a nasogastric feeding tube, and a catheter, and nursing care. But the hospital didn't charge the family anything. That gives you an idea how much organs are worth. But he was worth so much more to his family and I have to wonder if he could have been saved, if his organ donor card led to his death.

"First, do no harm" is no longer the guiding principle of medicine.
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