Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Automatic After-death Organ Donation

Ever heard of the term "Presumed Consent?" Currently twenty-four European nations have adopted presumed consent legislation to address the stagnant transplant rate and shortage of human organs.

Presumed consent for organ donation is the systematic framework in which a deceased person’s consent to be an organ donor is assumed. Those wishing not to be donors must express their objection in a national registry or a family member must object to organ donation after the person’s death. Thus, presumed consent differentiates itself by being an “opt-out” system, whereas the majority of the world’s organ donation systems are “opt-in”, requiring an individual to register their intent as organ donors. 

After watching the movie "Inhale" I was left wondering how far we as civilized nations will go to treat fatal medical conditions.  If my son or daughter were dying and only a healthy organ transplant would save them, would I turn a blind eye to unethical alternative methods by which a healthy organ can be acquired? I pray I'll never have to face that dilemma, and yet many parents have found and are finding no choice other than the unethical as a means of saving their child.

From the movie I learned that organ trafficking is a "public secret" that often goes undetected and unpunished.  There are Organs Watch groups throughout the world who investigate and document sales of and trafficking of human organs, violations of international laws and human rights.  Provides research and publications, documented cases and laws by country pertaining to organ harvesting and transplantation.
Men from Baseco, a slum in the port area of Manila, the Philippines, show their scars from kidney sales in a photograph from 1999. © Pat Roque/AP/Press Association Images - See more at:

If we thought the illegal arms trade was something to keep an eye out for, then the illegal organ trade is something we'd best not take our eyes off of.  It's been steadily growing over the years.  It's organized, wealthy, internationally networked and their product is in high demand.  

The scariest thought, as suggested in the movie, is that medical caregivers and civic agencies could be in concert with illegal organ traffickers.  Or worse; they could be running the organ cartel.  Fact or fiction?  Just follow the money.  And just who the heck came up with the Presumed Consent scam anyway? Bernie Madoff?

2007  paper on the state of international organ trade

2011 blood, bones and organs: the gruesome "red market"

2014 human traffic: exposing the human organ trade

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