Tags: organ | donation | death | heart

Proposed Organ Donation Rule Resets Death Clock

Wednesday, 21 Sep 2011 09:29 AM

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The group that coordinates organ donation nationally is considering a new rule that will redefine when death occurs. The United Network for Organ Sharing proposes a change in which doctors retrieving organs for transplant no longer will have to wait two minutes after a heart stops beating, The Washington Post reported.

The two-minute wait is in place to make sure the heart doesn’t start beating again spontaneously. The Richmond, Va.-based network, which coordinates organ donation under a contract with the federal government, also is considering eliminating a ban on considering anyone for an organ donation before doctors and family members have independently decided to stop trying to save them, according to the Post.

“The ultimate goal is to facilitate the dying wishes of patients who wish to be donors and save the lives of the 112,000-plus patients who are in need,” said Charles Alexander, the immediate past president of the network. “We are always very aware of our public trust.”

However, critics maintain the changes raises the risk that potential donors will be treated more like tissue banks than people.

“This is another step towards this idea of hovering, hovering, hovering to get more organs,” professor Michael A. Grodin told the Post.

“The bottom line is that they want to do everything they can to increase organ donation,” said Grodin, a professor of health law, bioethics, and human rights at Boston University.

The United Network for Organ Sharing board will meet in November in Atlanta to consider the revisions.

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