By Wesley J. Smith
Editor’s note. This appeared yesterday on Wesley’s fine blog at http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/secondhandsmoke/2011/04/11/organ-transplant-community-should-publicly-refuse-organs-from-suicides/
Belgian doctors are harvesting organs from euthanasia cases and I warned about the potential that despairing people might want to kill themselves if they thought their organs could benefit others. And now, a man has shot himself in a hospital parking lot, leaving a note to harvest his organs. From the story [http://articles.ocregister.com/2011-04-09/news/29404680_1_organ-donation-organ-donors-donor-card]:
A man found bleeding early Saturday on a sidewalk near Mission Hospital with a gunshot wound to the head left a suicide note asking the hospital to harvest his organs, police said. Charles Kilduff, 48, of Las Vegas was found at 2:30 a.m. by a person walking to the hospital’s parking lot. That person contacted hospital personnel who came out and examined the man, hospital spokeswoman Paula Serios said. Kilduff was taken into the emergency room and was pronounced dead on arrival, she said. He left a note that asked the hospital to harvest his organs,” sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino said. A handgun was found near Kilduff’s body.
The hospital was unable to harvest any organs, Serios said. She declined to say why. Bryan Stewart, a spokesman from OneLegacy, a nonprofit organ donation group that serves the Southern California area, said his organization would have been contacted if the organs had been viable. “We’re saddened for his next of kin and his family that he wanted to take his life,” Stewart said. “We never want organ donation to be the reason someone takes their life. We want the donation to be a way to give life to others after a long, healthy life.”
I am sorry, Mr. Stewart’s statement is way too wishy-washy. The organ transplant community should publicly refuse organs from future suicides–now–while this trend remains miniscule.
Here’s why: Suicidal people need help in living, not reasons to die. To prevent people from using the pretext of organ harvesting as a justification for their suicides, we need to make it very clear that their organs will not be so used if they decide to do the deed. Not only might such a clarion statement by the organ community save lives, but we don’t want a society that has a utilitarian stake in the self destruction of suicidal people.