X-Message-Number: 1178
From: Kevin Q. Brown
Subject: Organ Transplants and Cryonics 
Date: 8 Sep 1992

From: whscad1!kqb (Kevin Q Brown)
Subject: CRYONICS Organ Transplants and Cryonics

Page B1 of the Tue. Sept. 8, 1992 Wall Street Journal had an article
that caught my eye:

        Scarcity of Organs for Transplant Sparks
        A Move to Legalize Financial Incentives

Although the financial incentives behind the transplantation business
have been known for years, this article makes it more explicit and
out-in-the-open.  But what does this have to do with cryonics?
Even though there are several good reasons why cryonics patients
are not good candidates for organ transplantation (suspension
procedures render organs useless for transplantation, most suspension
patients have old, diseased and damaged organs anyway, etc.),
I think that it is worth watching the transplantation business to
make sure that nobody makes life more difficult for cryonicists.
In particular, we want to make sure that the increasing clamor for
transplantable organs does not jeopardize anyone's cryonic suspension
arrangements.  Yes, I know that there are strong legal precedents
(at least in California) supporting a cryonicist's right to determine
disposition of his/her body, but as the success rate of transplantation
technology improves, legislatures will be pressured to make harvesting
of organs easier than it is today.  (The article points out that today
the success rate for some kidney transplants approaches 97% and that
over 21,000 people are waiting for kidneys even though only a little
over 6,000 are donated each year.)

Consider the following quotes from the article:

    For the past year, medical officials in the state [of Texas]
    have been able to harvest organs from a body if the next of
    kin can't be identified or found within four hours.  To date,
    however, physicians have used that authority only twice.

   "Our medical examiners won't use that law, because everybody
    sues everybody for everything," says James H. Hayes, executive
    director of South Texas Organ Bank Inc. in San Antonio.

Now, at the risk of sounding like a scare monger, I will outline
how this situation could evolve to a potentially lethal climate
for cryonicists.

If I interpret this situation correctly, the threat of lawsuit
may be the main barrier to easy harvesting of human organs in Texas.
Using the above example of the need for kidney donors, or whatever
else provokes sympathy, a coalition of patients who need transplantable
organs and their medical services (that perform the harvesting and
transplants) may persuade the Texas legislature that many people will
die needlessly due to lack of available organs unless some enabling
legislation were to grant immunity from lawsuits for official organ
harvesters.  Once that is accomplished, it would be easy for the
organ harvesters to "accidentally lose" the medic-alert bracelet and all
identification (including the wallet card) for any cryonic suspension
organization member who was terminally injured in a car accident.
Good-bye cryonicist!

This scenario probably is wildly unrealistic, so I hope somebody
just tells me that it's silly and then makes a few million dollars
turning it into a plot for a Grade B movie.

                              Kevin Q. Brown
                              UUCP        ...att!whscad1!kqb

Who said this?
  "Remember, when they are transplanting brains, you want to be the DONOR."

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