11/13/05

Deliver directly to undertaker!
According to
AP: "Worshippers at black churches in 20 states will be urged this weekend to consider organ donation. The program, Linkages to Life, is aimed at raising awareness about organ donation among blacks, who suffer higher rates of diseases that damage the liver and kidneys."

This is not going to work. And it isn't because the religious leaders and others aren't trying or don't care.

1) Altruism motivates some people, but not enough to donate their vital organs. Thankfully we don't rely on altruism to motivate people to get up every day to go to work, to sell food to us, to play pro basketball or football, or for medical breakthroughs. We know that altruism doesn't work in most endeavors in life, but for some reason we believe (or foolishly hope) that it will work when it comes to people agreeing to have their bodies cut up after death or loved ones having to make that decision shortly after that loved one has expired. No wonder that there has been an organ shortage for as long as humans have known how to transplant organs. When important stuff is free, then everyone wants some.

2) The extra factor with blacks is fear of racism. At the end of the AP article, deacon Richard Adams, an organ transplant recipient, is quoted as saying, "Coming from a black environment, we don't like to give up our organs." Mr. Adams should have finished that sentence with the words, "for free!" AP didn't dig, but I'll speculate that there is one main reason that blacks don't like to give up their organs: fear that white doctors would kill or let blacks die prematurely so that they could get their organs.

I'm sure there are many whites and middle-class blacks who won't believe that. And if you think I'm making that up, just remember that magic word that conspiracy theorists haul out to shut down critics: Tuskegee. And you can now add a new word: Katrina.

You say that doctors wouldn't start stealing black body parts, and you'll hear about the syphilis experiment on blacks. Or about the
interferon medical breakthroughs of the 1980s, in which some charged that black babies were being killed in the late 1970s because they had a special medicine in their genitals that could cure cancer (James Baldwin and Dick Gregory supposedly were spreading that rumor).

It wouldn't take long for "
presumed consent" to lead to some cases of black people having their organs or body parts taken--James Baldwin might come back to life to team up with Dick Gregory to help spread the idea that the Klan was paying white doctors to kill off black patients. There are some doctors who have argued that they should be able to TAKE organs of people who didn't make it clear that they didn't want that to happen. And we see this from time to time when doctors get caught harvesting heads, hearts, other vital parts. Incredible. It supposedly is unethical for people to sell their own organs or body parts, but we've even got American doctors debating whether it is ethical for doctors to confiscate organs and body parts.

3) Right now, with just a few exceptions, it is only the medical people making money off transplanted organs. And the
proposals for paying people for organs pay them so little that it isn't a real incentive. $300? Forgetaboutit! Keeping the stipend low supposedly is to prevent from poor people from lining up to sell their organs. Okay, fine. With altruism, we end up with a long line of people waiting for organs. With a free market, we would probably end up with a line of people agreeing to sell their organs upon death, and others taking a chance that they can get by without an organ when a celebrity offers them $100,000 or more for something like a kidney.

Of course, there would be nothing to prevent altruistic people from donating their organs. If nothing else, donating their organs in an open market could help keep the cost of other organs on the market low.

4) For the first time in my life I've thought about getting a tattoo or even a series of tattoos. I'm debating the following:

"Do not remove parts upon death."
"Presumed Consent DENIED!"
"Not to be Donated or Dismembered!"
"Keep Intact!"
"Deliver Directly to Undertaker!"

CJL

Linked by Booker Rising, Black Electorate