Should You Sign That Donor Card?

Dick Teresi is the author of soon to-be released The Undead: Organ Harvesting, the Ice-Water Test, Beating-Heart Cadavers—How Medicine Is Blurring the Line Between Life and Death. Writing an op-ed titled “What You Lose When You Sign That Donor Card” in The Wall Street Journal, he makes the case that you’re giving up a lot more than your organs when you check that donor mark on your driver’s license:

Becoming an organ donor seems like a win-win situation. Some 3.3 people on the transplant waiting list will have their lives extended by your gift (3.3 is the average yield of solid organs per donor). You’re a hero, and at no real cost, apparently.

But what are you giving up when you check the donor box on your license? Your organs, of course—but much more. You’re also giving up your right to informed consent. Doctors don’t have to tell you or your relatives what they will do to your body during an organ harvest operation because you’ll be dead, with no legal rights.

I suggest reading the whole thing in order to understand Teresi’s conclusion of “It is possible that not being a donor on your license can give you more bargaining power. If you leave instructions with your next of kin, they can perhaps negotiate a better deal.” There is a lot of pushback in the comments, such as this one from an “Robert Taylor, MD”:

This is the most irresponsible journalism I have ever seen. This superficial treatment of a complex issue could unnecessarily frighten someone or their family from donating life saving organs and tissue. This author should be held accountable for the deaths that could be caused by this article. The Wall Street Journal should formally retract this article, apologize to the thousands of people waiting for a transplant, and disassociate from this author. This is far worse than than hate speech. This is speech that will literally cause people to die.

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