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Author Topic: "They Decide Who Lives, Who Dies"  (Read 11021 times)

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Offline Clark

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"They Decide Who Lives, Who Dies"
« on: July 25, 2011, 12:06:45 PM »

Shana Alexander's article for the November 1962 issue of LIFE magazine, "They Decide Who Lives, Who Dies, Medical miracle and a moral burden of a small committee."  

  "If Congress or somebody wanted to provide the money, we could take care of all our kidney people. But where do we stop? Who decides who needs treatment? The federal government would soon be treating the medically ill, alcoholics, old people, blind people, deaf people, people who need false teeth, -everybody! Is this what we really want?"

  "We are hoping someday to learn how to transplant live organs. So far, the body will not accept foreign tissue from another person, but eventually we will find a way to break this tissue barrier."

  The citizens who accepted the hospital trustees' call to serve on this committee quickly learned how little they understood the challenges they faced, and how difficult allocation of a limited resource is.  Some anticipated that this technology, and future improvements, would both resolve some of their problems but also deepen others, as well as create new challenges.  At least we debate openly now, with no more anonymous star chambers, with press inquiries and governmental accountability.  It is still excruciating, painstaking, and slow, and there are critical flaws still to be addressed, such as geographic disparities, but it is much more solidly based in equity and science than intuition and personal prejudice.  I do not feel, after my term on the OPTN/UNOS board, the way one member of this committee says he felt:

  "...I sometimes hear it via the grapevine when a patient we have passed over dies. Each time this happens there always comes this feeling of deep regret, and then that dreadful doubt--perhaps we chose the wrong man."

  We, living donors, donor candidates, our recipients, families, and friends, know the current system is inadequate and we have voluntarily made personal sacrifices to reduce what we can of those inadequacies. It's still inadequate.  The temptations of the powerful to address inadequacy by coercing the powerless is deep and strong.  May we navigate this recurring temptation conscientiously, despite past missteps.
Unrelated directed kidney donor in 2003, recipient and I both well.
580 time blood and platelet donor since 1976 and still giving!
Elected to the OPTN/UNOS Boards of Directors & Executive, Kidney Transplantation, and Ad Hoc Public Solicitation of Organ Donors Committees, 2005-2011
Proud grandpa!

Offline Karol

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Re: "They Decide Who Lives, Who Dies"
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2011, 02:05:25 AM »
The entire article has been transcribed in this recent issue of KidneyTimes http://kidneytimes.com/article.php?id=20110304143111
Daughter Jenna is 31 years old and was on dialysis.
7/17 She received a kidney from a living donor.
Please email us: kidney4jenna@gmail.com
Facebook for Jenna: https://www.facebook.com/WantedKidneyDonor
~ We are forever grateful to her 1st donor Patrice, who gave her 7 years of health and freedom

Offline CortezTod

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Re: "They Decide Who Lives, Who Dies"
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2017, 12:43:22 AM »
It is interesting for me.


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