Organ Donation

October 7, 2022

I have delayed writing this for a long time because I had questions I couldn’t answer.  I now have answers and they aren’t comforting.

Shortly after Robert was revived and moved to the PICU we met the LifeGift vultures.  They came into the room several times a day encouraging organ donation with all sorts of catchy phrases and euphemisms.  They even offered to throw a ‘Life Party’ if Robert didn’t make it and we decided to donate his organs.  We were still processing Robert’s accident and nowhere near giving up and their cheery presence and lack of hope in Robert angered us.  I finally told them that Robert’s organs would go in the grave with him, to get out and not to come back.

As a lifeguard and a diver, I knew that induced hypothermia was one of the means used to protect the brain after a drowning.  Robert was being warmed.  We asked about this and were told, “It’s hard to start a cold heart.”  What I failed to process in the overload that was the first few days in hospital was that Robert’s heart was started in the ED before he was ever moved to the PICU.  Why were they still warming him?

Drowning causes a reperfusion injury (as do heart attack and stroke).  This return of circulation leads to massive inflammation and swelling in the brain.  Nothing was being done for Robert to control this swelling.  No hypothermia.  No HBOT.  No CBD.  No Fish Oil.  No pharmaceuticals.  We were told we would have to ‘wait and see’.  It was almost as if they wanted Robert to fail. 

We have seen this same scenario play out from Massachusetts to California.  It was only recently that a mother shared with me that when she asked about the warming, the doctor told her they were protecting the organs.  At the expense of the brain?  Her child lasted less than 48 hours before the brain swelling crushed the brain stem.  Even then, her child still had a natural heartbeat when he was taken for organ harvesting.  He was, by all biological definitions, still alive.

And that is the uncomfortable part, the child must still be alive during organ harvesting.  So, the medical community has come up with something called ‘brain death’.  Brain death is an arbitrary term that means anything but actually dead.  Organs break down very quickly when biological death occurs and are of no value for transplant.  We had this confirmed when another mother asked that her son be removed from the ventilator.  If he survived, he was meant to survive.  If he passed, the hospital could have his organs.  The hospital declined as the organs would be of no use if he actually ‘died’.

It is, after four years of struggling with this issue, that I have become convinced that the goal with severely injured kids is to get the organs and avoid the long, expensive rehabilitation.  Reading about the massive shortage of organs, the money involved, the ‘Red Market’, etc. it is not hard to find the motivation.  I have been made aware that there is a ‘matrix’ used to evaluate kids when they arrive in the ED to determine the path taken.  I have requested a copy and am interested to see if it’s even possible for a drowned kid to survive the ‘matrix’.

My last unanswered question was, “How do the ED docs come to work every day and work so hard to save kids, only to have them sacrificed in the PICU?”  The answer, I’m afraid, is that they are in on the racket.  If the child actually dies, the organs are lost.  He must be revived so that the harvesting process can continue.