Organ “Snatching” Headlines First Medical Malpractice Victims’ Conference
By Lynn Shapiro, Staff Writer
The aggressive hunt for young peoples’ organs for donation has become such a legal and ethical dilemma that instead of previewing the entire first National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association’s (NMMAA’s) “Code Blue Conference” Breaking the Code of Silence in 2016, as we planned to do, PersonalInjury.com will devote its conference post to the organ-donation debate.
Dr. Paul A. Byrne, who is a pioneering neonatologist and pediatrician, and clinical professor of Pediatrics at University of Toledo Medical College, will argue that “brain death” is not true death, before an audience of med-mal victims, lawyers, probate officials and others at the first med-mal victims’ meeting in Galveston, TX, on October 17th-October 19th.
The meeting is the brainchild of Deirdre D. Gilbert, the advocacy group’s National Director.
Ms. Gilbert began her advocacy efforts after the death of her daughter, Joselyn, who was 22 when she died at the hands of an allegedly drunken surgeon.
For a complete list of conference speakers, please see: The Code Blue Conference. (www.CodeBlueConference.com)
Lakisha Wilson’s Story
Seldom has there been such a striking condemnation of the snatching of young organs than appeared in a Life News.com story.
Ms. Gilbert sent us the story last week--more than two years after the tragedy happened. (http://www.lifenews.com/2016/abortion-clinic-killed-this-woman-in-a-botched-abortion-then-her-organs-were-harvested).
We can only imagine the case was quietly settled.
The story involves a 22-year old African American woman, Lakisha Wilson, who suffered “almost immediate complications” during her second- trimester abortion, at a clinic called Preterm, in Cleveland Ohio, according to the Life News story.
Even though Ms. Wilson’s blood pressure was plummeting, her surgeon, Lisa Perriera, completed the abortion—ignoring her patient’s dangerous medical condition.
By the time, Dr. Perriera had completed the surgery, Ms. Wilson had stopped breathing and had suffered cardiac arrest,” Life News reports.
No One Called 911 for a Half Hour
Most dubious is the fact that according to public 911 records, it was about 30 minutes after Ms. Wilson went into cardiac arrest before Dr. Perriera called an ambulance.
Ms. Wilson was finally transferred to the University Hospital Case Medical Center in Cleveland, where she was given blood transfusions to treat the hemorrhage that hospital officials believed caused her cardio-respiratory failure.
She was listed in “critical but stable” condition.
However, “somewhere along the line”, the Life News story says, Ms. Wilson was pronounced “brain dead”, allegedly so her organs could be legally “harvested” for one of the many African Americans on the organ-transplant waiting list.
Black Organs Wanted
Because black people are more prone to high blood pressure, resulting in heart conditions, diabetes, and kidney failure, there is a pent-up demand among black men and women for compatible donors, Life News says. (organdonor.gov/minortyaa/index.html).
In America, about 30 percent of all organ recipients are African American, making them the largest minority population in need of organs for transplant. However, this racial group comprises only 18 percent of all organ donors, so there is a critical shortage of organs compatible for African American donors, Life News reports.
Approximately, 121,000 people in the US are awaiting organ transplants at any given time, according to Life News.
Ohio Motor Vehicles Permission Box
While Ms. Wilson was in the hospital, an organ procurement agency (OPO), called Lifebanc, began investigating Ms. Wilson’s organs for transplant suitability. (www.lifebankc.org)
Lifebanc is a non-profit OPO, based in Cleveland that claims to work with 22 Ohio hospitals to: identify donors; match them to patients on the National Transplant Waiting List; arrange for surgeons to “harvest” patients’ organs, and arrange organ donors’ transplants to hospitals--often times by helicopter.
Even as Ms. Wilson’s parents were horrified to see their daughter in critical condition on a ventilator, Lifebanc officials began pressuring Ms. Wilson’s father to sign over his daughter’s organs.
Meanwhile, Lifebanc was conducting extensive tests to make sure Ms. Wilson’s organs were disease free and ripe for the picking.
Her father explicitly refused to give Lifebanc his daughter’s organs.
Why after driving his daughter into cardiac arrest did the physician and her staff wait a half an hour before calling 911?, Mr. Wilson demanded to know.
He scribbled a note to Lifebanc, forbidding them from confiscating his daughter’s organs, and requesting that an autopsy be performed as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Lifebanc had been searching through the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles Organ Donor Database and found that Ms. Wilson had given her consent to “make an anatomical gift” of her organs upon her death.
Armed with this document, the organ procurement agency needed no permission from Mr. Wilson to proceed in removing his daughter’s organs.
Vital Organs Gutted
During the next few days, Lifebanc “gutted” every organ in the young woman’s body: including her: heart, lungs, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, abdominal aorta, inferior vena cava, kidneys, uterus, adrenal glands and connective tissues.” Life News reports.
What’s more, the coroner could not do an autopsy on what may have caused her wrongful death, as he would be examining a “partial cadaver”, the Life News story says.
The coroner could not see the fetus, either, and had to rely on Preterm’s records.
Two Laws Enforce Right to Remove Organs
Dr. Byrne says brain death is a “fiction” that should be called “brain washing.”
“Brain Death is a term that was invented by a Harvard Committee in 1968 in an article titled “A Definition of Irreversible Coma”, he says.
Cementing this policy, a model law called the Uniform Declaration of Death Act was drafted in 1981 by a President's Commission study on brain death. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Determination_of_Death_Act).
The law was endorsed by both the American Medical Association, and the American Bar Association, shortly after its publication.
Health care is handled on a state-by-state basis, so the intent of the Act was to provide a model for states to follow. Most states have enacted the law.
Another law, known as the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA), presumes people intend to be organ donors.
“UAGA governs organ donations for the purpose of transplantation, and it also governs the making of anatomical gifts of one's cadaver to be dissected in the study of medicine, “according to Wikipedia.
“It also provides that in the absence of such a document, a surviving spouse, or if there is no spouse, a list of specific relatives in order of preference, can make the gift.
“It also seeks to limit the liability of health care providers who act on good faith… that a deceased patient meant to make an anatomical gift,” Wikipedia says.
The law explicitly outlaws the sale of organs. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Anatomical_Gift_Act).
The UDDA and the UAGA have paved the way for the gutting of young men’s and women’s organs, whose blood is still oxygenating them,“ Dr. Byrne says.
High-Tech Brain Robbing
A New Yorker article, written in January, 2014, backs up Dr. Byrne’s allegation that organ donation is often times “high-tech brain robbing,” says writer, Gary Greenberg, a psychotherapist and the author of “The Book of Woe: the DMS and the Unmasking of Psychiatry". (www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/lights-out-a-new-reckoning-for-brain-death)
Mr. Greenberg writes that “death was legally redefined as irrevocable functioning of the brain stem, in large part, to facilitate organ donation, a practice that, because of the advances in immunosuppression and surgical technique, was increasingly effective and, therefore, frequent.
“People in need of organs were, in the words of Henry Beecher, the Harvard committee chairman credited with writing the report, ‘stacked up waiting for suitable donors.”, Mr. Greenberg writes.
“As Mr. Beecher knew, patients on life support—a population that was growing, thanks to the increased efficacy of intensive-care units—were the definition of the suitable donor, because their hearts still beat well enough to perfuse the organs with oxygen, keeping them viable.
“But such people were, according to the laws of the time, still alive.
“To Mr. Beecher, this was an outrage of inefficiency,” Mr. Greenberg writes.
He asks, “Can society afford to discard tissues and organs of the hopelessly unconscious patient when they could be used to restore the otherwise hopelessly ill, but still salvageable individual?
“If on the other hand--brain-dead people were legally dead, then the supply problem was solved: transplant doctors could remove a still-beating heart without committing murder,” Mr. Greenberg concludes.
Hospitals’ Catch 22
Dr. Byrne says that confiscation of “brain dead” organs is mandated by The Joint Commission for Accreditation of Hospitals—the very institute that evaluates U.S. hospitals across the country.
If hospitals don’t comply with the Commission’s rules, the Commission will grade them poorly, Dr. Byrne says.
He notes that The Joint Commission requires hospitals to put procedures in place that support Medicare and Health & Human Services’ efforts to harvest donor organs, and that Medicare pays for most of the growing number of organ donation surgeries performed in the US today.
“Doesn't organ snatching violate the 13th amendment of the Constitution against involuntary servitude? Dr. Byrne asks. “Organ donation is giving. This is taking.”
A Cowboy Movie: Dad Rescues Son
Another brain dead case has all the spaghetti of a cowboy movie.
A gun-toting father, George Pickering, stomped into the Tomball Regional Medical Center in Houston--holding hospital officials at gunpoint—after they threatened to take his teenage son’s organs, unplug his ventilator, and declare him dead.
Mr. Pickering’s son, George III, had by one account suffered a stroke. The hospital had approved a “terminal wean” that would remove him from life support and give him morphine to hasten his death—after they harvested his still vital organs.
This video of the Pickering’s fight to save his son’s life was posted by Noah Lipper, former Emergency Medical Technician in Florida, on this reporter’s Facebook page. (http://youtu.be/VLRjrYNaK34)
After George III was admitted to the hospital, officials there wasted no time contacting an organ donation procurement agency, informing them of George’s imminent death, according to a New York Daily News story, posted in December, 2015.(http://www/nydailynews.com/news/national/texas-man-rleased-jaill-siege-save-son-life-article-1.2474678)
The Daily News reported George III had epilepsy; and that his Dad knew his son would regain consciousness, as he had always done after suffering seizures in the past.
As soon as his son squeezed his hand three or four times on command, Mr. Pickering dropped his weapon and surrendered peacefully
The standoff with Houston police bought his son the three-hour window his son needed to come back from the “living dead”.
Mr. Pickering served jail time for two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, but one charge was later dismissed and the other reduced to a state jail felony.
Mr. Pickering and his son now run an electrical engineering business together, The Daily News reported.
The Daily News says that the patient has “fully recovered”, that George III is “the spitting image of his father”, and that the pair shares “an unbreakable bond.”
Document of Refusal
Dr. Byrne’s cases of persons who have recovered after a “brain death” declaration can be found on his website. (lifeguardianfoundation.org)
“When people go to the license bureau and are asked, ‘Do you want to be an organ donor?’ they say, ‘Yes’, thinking the hospital will take their organs after they are truly dead. “They don’t realize that you can’t take organs from a corpse,” Dr. Byrne says.
“What I recommend to parents of young patients is that everyone becomes aware of this. They need to file a document of refusal. We give them out to people.”
Dr. Byrne will have plenty of these documents on hand at The Code Blue Conference in October.
Med-mal Attorney in Favor of Donations
Medical malpractice attorney, Roy J. Konray, a principal at Tobin, Kessler, Greenstein, Caruso, Wiener, & Konray, P.C., in Clark, N.J., says that ,”as a general proposition, I believe that harvesting organs from a brain dead patient, who can only breathe or pump blood because they are on life-support, is a good thing.”
However, Mr. Konray says, “The Uniform Determination of Death Act falls short because it fails to take into consideration the possibility that the person making the determination may be motivated by greed or other factors, or that the law's definition of death conflicts with the tenets of the donor's religion.
“Fortunately, Mr. Konray says, “the legislature of New Jersey realized these shortcomings and added these additional requirements:
"If the individual to be declared dead upon the basis of neurological criteria is or may be an organ donor, the physician who makes the declaration that death has occurred shall not be the organ transplant surgeon, the attending physician of the organ recipient, nor otherwise an individual subject to a potentially significant conflict of interest relating to procedures for organ procurement.”
The law goes on to say that “the death of an individual shall not be declared upon the basis of neurological criteria, when the licensed physician authorized to declare death, has reason to believe… that such a declaration would violate the personal religious beliefs of the individual.
“In these cases, death shall be declared, and the time of death fixed, solely upon the basis of cardio-respiratory criteria,” the New Jersey law says. (N.J.S.A. 26:6A4-5).
Donor Consent Trumps Families’ Wishes
“With regard to the Wilson case, Mr. Konray says that, “it bears noting that under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, the coroner or medical examiner can nix the taking of organs when he or she wants to perform an autopsy.
“But, just because the donor's father wanted the coroner to perform an autopsy does not mean the coroner had to comply,” Mr. Konray argues.
“I have no quarrel with the proposition that the desires of a registered donor should trump the wishes of family members,” he says.
Mr. Konray adds that he understands why some people might argue that giving informed consent [in some cases by a minor] on a driver’s license is not a proper means of informed consent.
“But the thing that tips the scales for me is the number of lives that can be saved or vastly improved by donated organs that would otherwise be burned or allowed to rot, among those brain dead people who do not recover,” Mr. Konray concludes.