June 2, 2007

No Virginia, there will never be enough organs

Are you a wanna-be organ donor?

Good for you!

The probability, however, that you will die in such circumstances enabling the donation of any or many of your organs ranges all the way from tiny to zero.

Heroic medicine has not only delivered the remarkable development of successful organ transplants, but also heralded the successful salvaging of the lives of broken people who, in decades gone by, would have died from their accidents or brain aneurisms.

Organ donation is one of the most discombobulated medical dilemmas going around, more so than things like embryonic stem cell research, for example, which is almost simple in comparison.

We start with the meta-myth that there are “not enough organs”. As if a surfeit of donor organs is a social imperative and the lack of such a social disgrace, something over which we should be mortified.

It’s not the lack of organ givers causing this awkward problem. Rather, it is the organ failure, a personal physical deficiency, of the would-be recipients.

When it comes to human organs – and for reasons I can’t identify – one person’s organ failure is apparently the entire community’s problem.

Should we be outraged that there are “not enough” organs to go around? When the alternative would be a much higher number of “non-deaths”? An increase in the not-quite-dead-yet but terrifically suitable candidate for organ donation?

That there are not enough not-quite-dead-yet organ carriers is a testament to a wide range of road safety changes (from seat belts to drink-driving), improved workplace saftely, better health awareness in wealthy countries, and improved medical ntervention for those who find themselves in life threatening circumstances.

An increase in the potential pool of organs for donation would basically require a reversal of the medical and social improvements that have been made over the last several decades. Improvements that, concurrently, have lead to an ability to transplant organs.

Neither the near-dead nor the actually dead are obliged to surrender their organs, tissues or body bits, for any reason, or for any person.

It may be unfortunate for the person with organ failure, but their organ failure is not someone else’s responsibility, nor does it give them dibs on other people’s body parts. Most especially, it shouldn’t, perversely, engender a wish for more people to die in exactly the right circumstances so as to be able to be harvested for the good bits that are left.

Sorry, truly I am, but there is no entitlement.

Which is why, when I read this, about the hoax Big Brother organ donor show, I couldn't summon up even a fillip of anger.

“Program makers apologised to viewers and said they hoped "outrage" over the show would turn into anger over the lack of organs for transplant.”

It’s such a strange matter over which to expect people to be angry.


  1. Weren't we just talking about a hog hoax. Now an organ hoax. Reality is getting harder & harder to find.

  2. At least that's a real point upon which we can agree Cubicle.

    Who'd have thought that real life, with all it's mindboggling strangeness, would be found so wanting that society increasingly feeds off hoaxes, as if it's a perfectly normal and sane thing to do?

    From hoax autobiographies, to hogs, to "reality" telly shows, to the hoax of celebrities being wrinkle-free. (Or Paris Hilton having brown eyes, but always wearing blue contact lenses. These trivial things are the small hoaxes of every day life.)

    Doesn't it speak volumes that we blithely talk about "reality" teevee as if it entails something more honest than very cheap hired labor, place in totally artificials situations, then all edited to create fake stories and fake drama.

    Yes, I'm finding the hoax epidemic tiresome, pointless, meaningless.

  3. Anonymous9:42 PM

    Hey Caz!
    Those Cats are breathing down the Eagles necks mate!
    Makes for a very interesting comp..
    Good luck mate.

  4. Totally o/t, but I know you'd want me to break in with this, Cazworth:

    "Paris Hilton begins serving 3-week jail sentence."

  5. Amongst one of the top 1000 saddest days of my life was when I heard that Paris was only going to serve 22 days Drunka.

    How does someone "earn" good behavior before they get to jail? What happens if she misbehaves now that she's there?

    Kath – we’re sure on a roll, but as Thomo says, we’ve been in this position before … and it all came to tears.

    Your lads might be coming to the end of their golden run Kath, what do you think?

    It goes a bit like that. Remember Essendon, not so many years ago? The Brisbane Bears? (Or whoever they are … sorry, but I still have trouble with all of the interstate teams, especially given that they were *invented* while I lived in Canberra, away from the game).

  6. Anonymous10:39 PM

    Ahh no Caz. We haven't run out of legs yet mate!

    Kerr is back next week, and Cousins is not far off .
    Also Hansen and Embley to come back into the side..