A Christchurch man is "misleading" people into thinking they can skip waiting lists for organs, experts say.Aha. So Jonah Lomu's kidney came from a family member then? Or is the particular category of "rugby players" more protected than "organ donors"?
Andy Tookey set up LifeSharers three years ago to help improve New Zealand's organ donation rate, which is among the lowest in the Western world.
Members sign a contract saying they want their organs to go to LifeSharers members first.
The organisation was founded in the United States as a non-profit national network of organ donors.
Tookey says there is a shortage of organs and it is not fair to give them to non-donors when there are donors who also need organs.
Organ Donation New Zealand donor co-ordinator Janice Langlands said the LifeSharers model could not work because it did not have the transplant service's support.
"It's unfortunate, because he's misleading the public," Langlands said.
"Allocation of organs should go on medical emergency, and not disadvantage those who haven't signed up to be LifeSharers."
New Zealand Liver Transplant Unit clinical director Professor Stephen Munn said most organ donation organisations around the world had decided that no-one should be able to decide who their organs went to, unless it was to a family member. "The problem is that the assignment of organs to a particular category of people makes it very difficult because families could start saying, `I only want my organs to go to people who are Catholic or white'," he said.
First, neither Andy nor LifeSharers are misleading anybody. Unless the Organ service starts blackballing transplants to members, then members are no worse off by joining; and, should the doctors agree to respect donor wishes, then your chances improve by joining. If you're at worst no worse off and at best a bit better off, then it's not misleading to say you're overall better off.
Second, I've never seen Andy say anywhere that joining lets folks skip waiting lists. LifeSharers is far more marketed towards potential donors by encouraging them that their organs are more likely to go to organ donors; moreover, LifeSharers puts an explicit waiting period for new members before they become eligible for receipt to give folks a strong incentive to sign up while they're healthy.
Third, Munn brings up the old "Oh, racists may insist on donating to racists; we all hate racists, why do you want to make life easier for racists?" Red herring (see here). First, the service could always independently disallow racist bequests. Second, we have no evidence that directed donation elsewhere leads to problems with racist bequests. Third, even if it did, a racist who'd be unwilling to donate unless it could go to a member of his preferred race still brings a new organ into the system if he makes his repugnantly constrained bequest. Fourth, allowing racist bequests is categorically different from allowing LifeSharers requests: every person who joins LifeSharers gives every other person in the country a stronger incentive to be an organ donor and to join - for free - LifeSharers. You don't get that effect with racist donation.
Push comes to shove, the Organ Donor Service will eventually have to choose between respecting a donor's wish to donate to other donors via LifeSharers, or confront a grieving family telling them that they refuse to respect their loved one's wishes, that they'd sooner let the organs be buried, and subsequently face a lawsuit. I hope that I don't get to be the test case.
Lloyd Cohen's declaration is looking better all the time....
I really hope this is the last bit of angry for the day....