Will I Receive an Anesthetic When I Donate My Organs?

If you are a registered organ donor, you may be interested to know about an ongoing debate in transplant medicine. The discussion is about whether to use anesthesia during organ harvest surgeries. You may be thinking, “What does it matter? I’m dead.” That’s the fundamental issue; however, you are not truly dead! Organ donors under the bone-cutting saw and flesh-cutting scalpel respond to the brutal butcher session with changes in blood pressure and heart rate. The debate is about what to do about organ donors who have apparent signs of life. Should we let people know about responses to the organ harvest surgery and provide an option for euthanasia? Then we can be sure registered organ donors are dead. Or do we continue the current clandestine approach and practice? Do we ignore the signs of bodily distress during organ harvest surgeries? After all, these people are dead and dead people don’t need anesthesia. If anesthesia is administered to dead people, the farce of the Dead Donor Rule (DDR) and Uniform Determination Death Act (UDDA) will be exposed. If you had surgery with general anesthesia, you’ve had no recall of the procedure. If all went well, you experienced the blackout as the anesthetic was injected into your arm, and you woke up after the breathing tube was removed from your throat. Today, registered organ donors don’t experience this luxury since the goal is to preserve their organs for transplant after being declared dead. Instead, they are pinned down by neuromuscular blocking agents to prevent movements during the harvest surgery, and vital signs are adjusted by medications to ensure organ protection. Anesthesia literature indicates heroic measures for intravenous hydration, hormonal support, and other types of critical care to preserve organs, not life. Nothing about anesthetic agents for the compassionate blackout we experience during our surgeries to prolong our lives. Science journalist Dick Teresi, The Undead: Organ Harvesting, the Ice Water Test, Beating Heart Cadavers—How Medicine Is Blurring the Line Between Life and Death, in correspondence with his local Organ Procurement Organization (OPO), details the reluctance to use anesthesia for registered organ donors. Teresi offered to donate his organs if the OPO could assure him he would receive an anesthetic during the harvest surgery. He even offered to pay for the anesthesia beforehand by recording it in his Will. After a lengthy correspondence, the OPO refused his request and would not guarantee he would receive an anesthetic during the organ harvest surgery. Drs. Miller and Truog, Death, Dying, and Organ Transplantation, cite European anesthesia literature discussing whether registered organ donors declared dead should receive an anesthetic during organ harvest surgeries. It’s important to note that countries in Europe, like the United Kingdom, have mandatory organ donation laws. “Surprisingly,” write the two physicians, “their position was not based on the claim that the patients were incapable of experiencing pain. Instead, they were concerned that if the public learned that anesthesiologists were giving an anesthetic to ‘dead’ patients, it would make them suspicious that the patients were not really dead.” Registered organ donors are not dead at the time of the bodily carving. The numbers speak for themselves. According to Organdonor.gov, in “2021, 169 million people in the U.S. have registered as donors,” exceeding the number of organ donors needed by more than 1,000 times. Presently, only 106,036 people need organs in the U.S. The death rate in 2021 was 9 per 1000 people, which means statistically, 1,517,113 organ donors died. Yet, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), “13,861 people became deceased organ donors nationwide in 2021.” Why is this number so low? According to calculations based on statistics for 2021, there are 1,411,077 registered donors in excess. The reason, Organdonor.gov explains: “Not everyone who registers as a donor is able to donate. In fact, only 3 in 1,000 people die in a way that allows for deceased organ donation.” That “way that allows” for organ donation is a law like those permitting abortion and physician-assisted suicide, and it’s the UDDA. This Act permits active euthanasia by removing organs from still-living heart-beating donors with vital signs. It enabled the demise of the 13,861 registered organ donors in 2021 by cutting out their organs, perhaps even while they were aware! Unlike the medical professionals armed with technology who declare people dead, those who recovered from these arrogant and lethal death-dealing speculations can tell us about inner awareness. Their stories are chilling. You can read about numerous episodes in Harvesting Organs & Cherishing Life. These people reported a level of awareness, even though they were on life support and unresponsive to outsiders. Imagine the horror of being inwardly aware, unable to move due to drugs that paralyze the body, and dissected without the benefit of anesthesia? If you are a registered organ donor, it could become your reality.


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