Updated: May 30
We thought it would be helpful to put together the body of a model letter to cut and paste to send to prolife legislators (here is an example) or to anyone to serve as informed consent regarding the risks of registering as an organ donor. The material in this model letter was created after extensive research and in collaboration with several prolife medical professionals. Please feel free to copy, reproduce, and disseminate.
While the abortion issue is significant for prolife advocates, another form of disrespect for human life occurs in our nation’s hospitals every day due to the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA) and now a recent push to loosen the UDDA death by neurological criteria (DNC) standards further (rUDDA). The UDDA is a legal fiction that declares people dead while they still have biological signs of life, and it exploits registered non-responsive organ donors who experienced a head injury. These altruistic people never receive informed consent regarding the potential risks of being a registered organ donor.
The UDDA became law in 1981, and it permits a definition of death to allow the harvesting of organs from still-living donors with impaired brain function on a ventilator who do not meet the Dead Donor Rule (DDR). The public has not been informed that a person declared dead by neurological criteria (DNC), i.e., allegedly “brain dead,” still has a heart beating on its own, circulation, and respiration (exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the tissues). Also, many people declared dead under the UDDA whole-brain standard (DNC) still have a functioning hypothalamus, an essential part of the brain that interacts with the body. Several people have also recovered after a diagnosis of brain death and went on to live regular lives.
Other signs of life also continue in those meeting the DNC standard, such as wound healing, a complicated diffuse process throughout the body of many factors circulating in the blood and interacting with cells, tissues, and organs. There is urine production, temperature maintenance, and homeostasis of interdependently functioning organs and systems. If a “brain-dead” woman is pregnant, she can carry and nourish the baby in her womb. Not to mention, DNC organ donors undergoing harvest surgeries require the presence of an anesthesiologist to manage increases in heart rate and blood pressure, which are more than reflex responses, as well as other objective signs of suffering in response to the cutting of flesh and sawing of bone.
What was mentioned above does not occur in people who experience natural death. Physicians may refer to the person declared dead using the DNC criteria as a corpse, but he or she still has signs of life, unlike an actual corpse ready for the morgue. Considering all of this, it is now a well-established fact amongst medical professionals that the UDDA is a legal fiction, and organ donors declared dead under the UDDA whole-brain criteria violate the DDR—their demise occurs through the removal of their organs.
The UDDA and hospitals in our nation do not respect the lives of organ donors with impaired brain function on ventilators, who never received informed consent about the risks of registering to donate their organs.
The organ transplant stakeholders would have the public believe that if medical intervention is stopped in organ donors meeting DNC criteria, natural death will occur instantly, but this is not the case. After withdrawing from a ventilator, these people may continue to live for minutes, hours, days, months, and even years with non-aggressive medical and nursing care. Not to mention those already referenced who completely recovered after they were declared “brain dead,” which indicates the fallibility of diagnostic testing and expert opinion (see Covert Consciousness, Cognitive Bias, and Medical Hubris). Of course, if organ donors experience natural death, their hearts, lungs, livers, kidneys, and other vital organs will no longer be suitable for transplant. Other utilitarian and capitalistic factors motivate Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs), hospitals that perform transplant surgeries, and transplant surgeons.
At this point, the organ procurement issue is like abortion because judgment is passed on human life. The result: a person is put to death, and his or her still-living biological parts are used for the “betterment of society” as a whole. Whether they are aborted fetal cells from the 1970s kept in labs to manufacture COVID-19 shots; or the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys of a newly licensed organ donor involved in a car accident that are transplanted into five people deemed more worthy of ongoing life—both abortion and the current organ procurement practice reflect the “Life Unworthy of Life” doctrine of Nazi Germany.
Since the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) is presently working with organ procurement stakeholders to loosen the UDDA criteria further, I urge you to introduce legislation to repeal the UDDA and suggest the following replacement:
No one shall be declared dead unless the respiratory and circulatory systems and the entire brain have been destroyed. Such destruction shall be determined in accordance with universally accepted medical standards.
We must respect life in every stage, from conception until natural death.