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Thread: Should autism block man from heart transplant?

  1. #1
    Wanna cuddle? RabbitMage's avatar
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    Default Should autism block man from heart transplant?

    http://articles.philly.com/2012-08-1...art-transplant

    I saw a bit of debate about this yesterday, and opinions ranged from "This is eugenics" to "the disabled are less deserving of life", which a bunch of less awful opinions between the two.

    So what do you think, Mellos?

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    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
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    Autism would not be a disqualifier if I was on the God Squad that considered whether or not that kid should get the heart. I would only bar the very old, the already very sick, and those whose lifestyle (esp. chronic drug, alcohol or tobacco abuse) made them poor candidates for transplant.

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    Oliphaunt
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    Quote Originally posted by Elendil's Heir View post
    I would only bar the very old, the already very sick, and those whose lifestyle (esp. chronic drug, alcohol or tobacco abuse) made them poor candidates for transplant.
    I get the sense that you could do that, and there still wouldn't be enough organs for everyone who needs them.

    I wish we could have gotten more information from the other side of this story. HIPAA probably prevents them from explaining in detail why they rejected the kid, but it doesn't sound the the decision-making process was as simple as "autistic people shouldn't get donor organs".

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    Wanna cuddle? RabbitMage's avatar
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    Yeah, I think that's my biggest issue with the way it's been presented. There are a range of factors that lead to this man being excluded, his autism being just one of them. But it's become "This man was denied a heart because AUTISM", which is a pretty gross oversimplification of the decision making process.

    I want everyone who needs an organ and has a reasonable chance of success with a transplant to get that organ. I wish things like scarcity weren't an issue (p.s. be an organ donor pls), but they are, so there's a group of people who have to make some very harsh, very practical decisions about who gets these organs.

    A man with what sounds like a small support network and other medical conditions that may interfere with his recovery is not as good a candidate as someone without those issues.

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    Oliphaunt
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    Quote Originally posted by RabbitMage View post
    A man with what sounds like a small support network and other medical conditions that may interfere with his recovery is not as good a candidate as someone without those issues.
    Exactly. Not to mention the fact that I'm sure someone could write an equally heart-rending piece on just about any person who's in need of a donor organ.

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    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
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    There was discussion a few years ago of presuming that a dead person consented to organ donation UNLESS he or she specifically opted out while still alive, reversing the current American legal policy. Dunno if that ever went anywhere - too controversial, I guess, although demand still far outpaces supply of useful organs.

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    Wanna cuddle? RabbitMage's avatar
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    That's a system I'd like to see, personally. I don't want it to be mandatory, allowing for religious freedom and personal preference and all that, but it's sad to think about viable organs lost because someone never bothered to check the "donor" box at the DMV or something.

    I confess I wasn't a donor for a long time, because the idea bothered me--or so I thought. The actual thing that troubles me is being dead. Seeing as that'll happen anyway, why not give up the organs?

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    Oliphaunt The Original An Gadaí's avatar
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    Yeah organs for all!

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    Hmm, I don't think its necessarily the transplant that's the problem, but the huge amount of aftercare and drugs that are required in these situations, which could severely aggravate his current conditions.

    But just defining it as autistic kid can't get a transplant is just a simple headline grab.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RabbitMage View post
    That's a system I'd like to see, personally. I don't want it to be mandatory, allowing for religious freedom and personal preference and all that, but it's sad to think about viable organs lost because someone never bothered to check the "donor" box at the DMV or something....
    How about this?

    Pass a Federal law. Phase it in over, say, a three-year period. Arrange for lots of public service announcements and press coverage about the upcoming change in policy. Make opt-out forms even more widely available than voter registration is now: online, at libraries, DMVs, senior and community centers, hospitals, doctors' and dentists' offices, student unions, etc. (but include language in an accompanying pamphlet as to why organ donation is a very good idea). Provide that those who are comatose or mentally disabled cannot have organs harvested in any event. Opt-out forms are to be filed with the person's physician and with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, kept in a secure database, and available at the request of any two doctors. A record is kept of any such requests, and there are criminal penalties and fines for anyone convicted of a bogus request.

    Then, after three years, the change takes effect. Even the adamant objections of spouse or family that "Poor old [whoever] would never want his organs to be harvested" would legally irrelevant if the deceased never opted out in writing. Children would still require the consent of parents for organ harvesting.

    Would that do the trick?

  11. #11
    The Queen Zuul's avatar
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    I do wish that was the way the system worked, EH. It seems absurd to me that life-saving organs and tissues are going to waste. Certainly, there are people who have religious objections to donating, but I think the vast majority of people who aren't donors have just never really thought about it.

    I also hope that the matter will be increasingly irrelevant in years to come, thanks to advances like the work of Dr. Anthony Atala--who has created kidneys and bladders in a lab--and developments like the "skin gun" for burn victims. The goal is to be able to produce replacement organs and tissues for people using their own genetic material so that there's no chance of rejection, and thus a much milder burden on the body and no immunorepressing drugs are needed. Until we get there, though, those donations are literally the difference between life and death for so many.
    So now they are just dirt-covered English people in fur pelts with credit cards.

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