In the previous post, we looked at a couple of intriguing--maybe disturbing-- articles on the issue of harvesting organs from "recently dead" humans. (That post was "A REMEDY FOR DEATH. Ah, but what IS death? Two interesting articles.")
But that got into the emerging hot-button related issues of "what is death--how should it be gauged?" and "how dead does one really need to be an organ donor?"
In another take on the question, Dick Teresi in Discover Magazine, May 2012, wrote an article, "The Beating Heart Donors" Donors," --- that is, in some cases, those are "pretty dead." But how dead do you have to be to be an organ donor? A couple of intriguing excerpts from that article:
- "The only people who do not get a share of the transplant wealth are the most
essential: the donors and their families. By law, they are the only ones who
cannot be compensated. Joseph
Murray, the surgeon who performed the first solid-organ transplant,
maintains that donors must not be paid, in order to maintain the integrity of
- "The organ trade claims transplants are the neat
extraction of body parts from totally dead, unfeeling corpses. But it's more
complicated and messier than that."
- "Organ transplants would be peripheral to the story of death if they were what
the organ trade claimed them to be: the neat extraction of body parts from
totally dead, unfeeling corpses. But it is more complicated and messier than
that. The grisly facts compiled in this article are not an attempt to derail
organ transplantation—an impossible task, given how entrenched the industry
is—but knowledge that has been gained from the medical establishment’s obsession
with recycling the bodies of people who are, in the words of Dr. Michael
DeVita of the University of Pittsburgh’s Medical Center, only “pretty dead.”"
Just to be clear, these are Dick Teresi's words and thoughts.
In another of those little strokes of synchronicity that make my life so interesting, literally as I was writing this entry, I got a call from a friend, a retired Army Colonel, who told me he'd had a transplanted eye for 25 years now, still working well.
Transplants, good. But still up in the air is the issue of donation.
Best yet, still to come, is the whole field of bio-artificial organs, organ fabrication, organ regeneration and the like . It's happening, bio-artificial organs are being --what's the word? Created? Generated? Grown? (On this, I recently did several posts noting current research in these fields. You'll find these mostly in the September 2012 archives of this blog.)
A couple of words more about Dick Teresi. That Discover article is based on his newest book, THE UNDEAD: ORGAN HARVESTING, THE ICE-WATER TEST, BEATING HEART CADAVERS--HOW MEDICINE IS BLURRING THE LINE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH (available in both e-book and p-book version via Amazon and other booksellers.)
And this: way back, when I was first beginning the research for my technothriller, A REMEDY FOR DEATH: Playing God with Body, Soul & Bio-tech, one of my earlist and most helpful resources with the book THE THREE-POUND UNIVERSE by Judith Harper and --you guessed!--Dick Teresi. (Without giving away the plot of Remedy, suffice it to say that the three-pound universe is that thingee up inside your head, also known as "the brain." And that one of the lead characters in Remedy just happens to be a experimental neurosurgeon with some ideas that are definitely outside the experimental mainstream.)