nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
See here for more discussion.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bill Introduced In CO To "Presume Consent" To Organ Donation

Colorado is already a donation-friendly state.  If this bill becomes law, a person would have to make a positive declaration that they don't want to donate; otherwise it's a done deal.

According to the Associated Press (Jan 19), this form of legislation has not been successful in other states.  Advocates for the bill think Colorado could be their break-through effort, since the state has among the highest percentages of people willing to donate their organs when they die.  The advocates AP talked to tend to be organ recipients and their families, or those who are still waiting.  The number of donations required each year continues to grow rapidly.

Some European countries have similar laws.  This has increased organ availability for recipients where it's been enacted.  But, then again, Europeans have a different culture than ours, one more amenable to government intervention.

I'm surprised to find that some bioethicists think it's OK to circumvent active consent, as noted in the article above.  These days a surgeon can't do anything unless she/he advises the patient about everything that could go right or wrong in a surgical procedure.  Lawsuits for millions of dollars are commonplace when people don't think they gave permission properly.

Yes, this surgical procedure (to take an organ) would be on a deceased person--or at least near the moment of death.

And what do we do if a person would have consented but changed their mind, and never got around to going down to the DMV to stand in line all day and accomplish the paperwork?

I haven't studied why some ethicists think presumed consent is OK, so I'll have to look into it.  But, my gut reaction is that persons own their bodies, and control does not revert to the government or any other person in the absence of "intent" to transfer that ownership.

"Presumed" consent contains no element of positive intent.

Can you imagine the scene in the hospital?  "I know you're grieving about your loss a few minutes ago, but we'd like you to understand that we can take eyes, kidneys, lungs, etc even though your loved one didn't say we could.  That's the law."

The first state that passes this law will face a big lawsuit when a bereaved family finds that not all of Grandma has gone to the funeral home.

Doc D

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