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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mandatory Organ Donation's Tragic Flaws

The New York proposed legislation (see my article from Friday April 30) mandating automatic enrollment of all drivers in an organ and tissue donation database unless they opt out has three tragic flaws.

The proposal raises the risk of pre-death organ harvesting by overzealous doctors or others. As Allan from Manhattan wrote, the issue is the definition of death. Bodily death (cessation of respiration) follows cessation of circulation, but brain death can occur well after respiration and circulation stop. Imagine your last sensations being that of being cut up -- literally. We execute prisoners with painkillers to abide by the Eighth Amendment. But potentially viable babies (20-24 weeks) never see the inside of a neonatal unit. And imagine what your chances of survival could be if you possess several organs on the doctor's shopping list!

(Perversely, the better health you're in, the more in demand your organs might be, so your chances of survival in the hospital might be less! Drink up fellas!)

Another flaw: Your decision to opt out must be recorded by people working in the Department of Motor Vehicles. When was the last time they were known for caring, or even being efficient? Finally, your decision must be respected by other bureaucrats and authorities.

Next flaw: There is a difference between doing good, and doing something to LOOK good. This "do gooder" bill taps into the desperation of the ill, but endangers others by putting them at the mercy of the unscrupulous. A civilized, advanced society which prides itself on being progressive does not sacrifice its weak, ill or injured.

Warning to New York Voters -- Vote of No Confidence.  The bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, is a candidate for New York Attorney General.  If this bill is indicative of Brodsky's intellect and analytical abilities, I would warn New York voters to choose among the several other fine candidates who have already declared for the office, and certainly should withhold their vote -- and their monetary contributions -- from Brodsky.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer and strategic consultant.

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