If you’ve marked the donor box on your driver’s license you have done more than just give up your organs. You’ve given up your right to informed consent.
Doctors don’t have to tell you or your relatives what will happen to your body during an organ-harvest operation. Your rights are gone because you’re dead. Or are you?
The 1981 Uniform Determination of Death Act made brain death a legal form of death in all 50 States. But the examination doctors use to determine brain death doesn’t involve scanning for brain activity. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The exam for brain death is simple. A doctor splashes ice water in your ears (to look for shivering in the eyes), pokes your eyes with a cotton swab and checks for any gag reflex, among other rudimentary tests. It takes less time than a standard eye exam. Finally, in what’s called the apnea test, the ventilator is disconnected to see if you can breathe unassisted. If not, you are brain dead. (Some or all of the above tests are repeated hours later for confirmation.)
Here’s the weird part. If you fail the apnea test, your respirator is reconnected. You will begin to breathe again, your heart pumping blood, keeping the organs fresh. Doctors like to say that, at this point, the “person” has departed the body. You will now be called a BHC, or beating-heart cadaver.
Still, you will have more in common biologically with a living person than with a person whose heart has stopped. Your vital organs will function, you’ll maintain your body temperature, and your wounds will continue to heal. You can still get bedsores, have heart attacks and get fever from infections.
“I like my dead people cold, stiff, gray and not breathing,” says Dr. Michael A. DeVita of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “The brain dead are warm, pink and breathing.”
Studies have shown that some patients determined by these tests to be brain dead were still showing signs of brain activity. In one study, 17 of 503 patients declared brain dead showed brain activity in an EEG.
Like the rest of conventional medicine, there is big money in organ transplantation. When you check the box to make yourself an organ donor, you sign away your humanity and your rights and make it possible for doctors to choose expediency and profit over compassion. Your organs can be harvested from you before your loved ones have a chance to ensure you are dead and that there’s no hope for recovery.