In the current essay I would like to consider what it means to be an organ donor, and how this issue is regulated in the U.S. legal system. To begin with, it should be noted that organ donation is a voluntary procedure for donating by human his/her own organs and (or) tissues in favor of a particular person, and unspecified persons. THESIS: In most European countries, a person is considered as organ donor by default. If a person does not want to be a donor, he/she should officially announce it. In the U.S., the opposite situation: each potential donor is required to inform authorities of a similar desire.
It should be specified, that the process of lifetime organ and tissue donation technically includes the following steps:
- Donor passes a medical examination for the absence of contraindications to donation.
- If the donation made in favor of a particular person, it shall be tested for biologically compatibleness between donor and recipient.
- The donor and recipient are prepared for surgery of organ transplantation. Usually on this stage doctors analyze the implications for transplantation of donor and recipient.
- Doctors prepare necessary documents and get final approval for transplantation;
- A surgical transplantation.
Further I would like to consider general provisions of organ donation, adopted in the U.S. legal system. In particular, U.S. Federal and state laws require inspection and approval of family members with compliance of the patient criteria of brain death and the possibility of organ and tissue donation for transplantation. Also, there are standards of information, with which family members should be aware. As a rule, this information assists families to understand the general provisions on the donation and transplant surgery. Some or all of the possible organs may be removed for transplantation, but the removal of organs does not interfere with the ritual of burial in an open coffin (not entail changes in the external of the corpse), family members can get information about the fate of all retired organs, as described in Organ Donation.
Currently, in the U.S. organ transplantation from deceased persons is made by drawing lots. Moreover, the requirements for the deceased organ donors are quite high: donors must be relatively young and healthy (to death). About half of the donor dies as a result of stroke or other natural causes or from serious injury or intoxication. In 2009, the 7593 dead Americans become organ donors and provided 60% of transplanted nephros in the U.S., 95% of livers and 100% of hearts, lungs and pancreas. The process of removal of organs in the United States begins with the fact that hospital, where the patient died (or is dying) inform the local service of the Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) on the presence of a potential donor. It is important to know that there are 58 such structures in the U.S., which, being non-profit organizations, co-ordinate the whole process of organ transplantation, from the receipt of requests from patients, who need a transplant to the process of transplanting. Immediately after receiving information from the hospital about the presence of a potential donor, experts of these organizations find out “medical fitness” of donors, analyzing the health, age, cause of death, etc. After this, the organization refers to the closest relatives of the deceased to obtain a permit for the removal and transplantation of organs. It should be mentioned that legally, many states do not require the consent of the individual family members for organ transplant of deaths. If the deceased voluntarily registered as organ donor, that is enough for transplantation (usually a special mark placed in the driver’s license). Nevertheless, even if the deceased was not averse to donate his/her organs for noble purposes, based on ethical grounds, the opinion of the deceased’s family is almost always taken into account, as stated in Organ donation: Don’t let these myths confuse you.
As a matter of fact, the present system of donation in the United States is based on the principle of altruism. National Organ and Transplant Act, passed in 1984, prohibits trade of bodies and receive any financial compensation for donors. In September 2003, Department of Health started a special program of Organ Donation Breakthrough Collaborative to promote and encourage organ donors, as well as to improve the whole transplant system. However, the implementation of this program did not lead to the specific results – the number of donors has not increased significantly. With the aim to solve this problem, in the U.S., nowadays, is discussed a version to include in the lists of potential donors people, who were considered by doctors as unwanted earlier. This group includes the elderly and people, suffering from hepatitis, diabetes or high blood pressure. Of course, this method is fraught with negative consequences for the health of patients, who are recipients of organs. However, it is the only way to significantly increase the number of donors in the country since in the U.S., the idea of the creation of a market of human organs is unpopular, because of ethical considerations. Mainly, due to the fact, that as in the case of inclusion of the market mechanism in this region, under conditions of extreme shortage of organs, an opportunity to get organ transplantation will have only those, who can pay the highest price for a new liver or heart.
Organ Donation. 2010. 20 November 2011. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/organdonation.html >
Organ donation: Don’t let these myths confuse you. 2011. 20 November 2011. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/organ-donation/FL00077>