Health and organs

2008-05-28

in Canada, Daily updates, Ottawa

Today, I registered for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). Once I get the card, I will no longer need to pay $60 up front and time I want to see a doctor.

I also took the opportunity to register as an organ and tissue donor (any organ or tissue they want, for transplant or medical experiments). If I do manage to die in a sudden and non-organ-destructive manner, there is no reason for which my loss should not be someone else’s gain.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Tristan May 29, 2008 at 4:44 am

I also feel that it is good to give away your organs in this way, but for an extra reason in addition to the normally cited ones. It is a mistake, I think, to confuse human life with brain life, what is alive in the human organism is its entire body. Thus, what can be properly said to occur in an organ transplant is a part of a human continues to live in another human. Since organs are Holons – considered from one point of view an entity unto itself, and from another, a part of a system – the organ never completely fits in its new circumstances. This strife, combated with anti-rejection medication, is in some small sense, the continued life of the organ donor.

Milan May 29, 2008 at 8:50 am

Related post:

Organ harvesting and natural revulsion
May 27th, 2008

Milan May 29, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Tristan,

I don’t think there is any meaningful way in which the incorporation of my organs, bones, etc into someone else’s body means that I am ‘still alive.’ At best, they would be relics akin to the hair and fingernails of saints, preserved in gold boxes around the world.

While the mind-body distinction has generally been overdone in philosophy, there is still a very considerable degree to which non-cognitive organs are just generic meat, with no special connection to the person using them.

XUP May 29, 2008 at 4:41 pm

Good for you, Milan. I don’t understand why people are so reluctant to sign that donor card. Along with helping someone who may need your organ, I think it would also be something positive for the family of the deceased person to hang on to.

Kerrie May 29, 2008 at 9:23 pm

Tristan:

I’m curious how your brain-body-organ views apply to my comic book.

Milan May 29, 2008 at 10:41 pm

XUP,

Most people are probably like me. I had been intending to sign up for ages. It was only when I saw the forms prominently displayed in a place where I needed to go anyhow – and at a time when I had all the required ID handy – that I actually took the plunge.

Claire May 30, 2008 at 5:30 am

$60 for visiting the doctor? Vive la NHS!

Milan May 30, 2008 at 8:47 am

Claire,

It is because provinces are primarily responsible for health. Since I was still under the British Columbia plan, I had to pay up front and submit my receipt and paperwork to them.

Eventually, I should get the $60 refunded.

. October 31, 2008 at 3:58 pm

SIR – I read your article on organ transplants with interest (“The gap between supply and demand”, October 11th). I am the father of a seven-year-old boy, Nicholas Green, who was shot and killed in an attempted robbery during a family vacation in Italy. My wife and I donated his organs and corneas to seven very sick Italians, four of them teenagers. We’ve watched them grow into men and women and, 14 years later, all seven are still alive. Having seen all this I cannot visualise any decision other than the one we made, though to us at the time those people were just statistics on a waiting list.

The main obstacle for most people, I suggest, is this: brain death is usually sudden death—a road accident, a stroke, violence—and people arrive at the hospital to find someone they love, who was in good health only a few hours earlier, now dead or dying. Many are too stunned to take it in, others are angry and looking to assign blame; relations between family members may be tense, almost all are confused about organ donation.

To make a major, irrevocable decision there and then in this highly emotional atmosphere, about something they have never thought about before, is just too much for many people. They say no and often regret it for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, of all the hundreds of donor families I have met, I can scarcely remember one who regretted the decision.

If this is correct, the solution is clear: just as with any other important decision, families should discuss the options in calm conditions, when death is still a distant concept. As the overwhelming majority of people in most countries say they would donate a family member’s organs if they were faced with the choice, I would expect donation rates to soar.

Reg Green
La Cañada, California

. April 21, 2009 at 7:39 pm

Kids, it’s cool to sign that donor card

A new Ontario campaign is using cheeky humour to convince young people of the benefits of organ donation
CARLY WEEKS
April 21, 2009

Young people in Ontario are the targets of a blunt new campaign designed to drive up the number of organ and tissue donors in the province.

The program, believed to be the first of its kind in Canada, includes tongue-in-cheek transit ads offering vital organs for sale, and a website featuring the torso of a young man that opens to reveal various organs that can be donated. It’s part of an in-your-face push to persuade more teenagers and twentysomethings to consider signing organ donation cards and even become advocates of the cause for future generations.

. October 13, 2009 at 12:05 pm

“Government traffic safety mandates are typically designed to reduce the harmful externalities of risky behaviors. We consider whether motorcycle helmet laws also reduce a beneficial externality by decreasing the pool of viable organ donors. Our central estimates show that organ donations due to motor vehicle fatalities increase by 10 percent when states repeal helmet laws. Two characteristics of this association suggest that it is causal: first, nearly all of it is concentrated among men, who account for over 90 percent of all motorcyclist deaths, and second, helmet mandates are unrelated to organ donations due to circumstances other than motor vehicle accidents. Our estimates imply that every death of a helmetless motorcyclist prevents or delays as many as 0.33 deaths among individuals on organ transplant waiting lists.

Milan October 13, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Perhaps people who want to ride motorcycles without helmets should have to apply for the right, and should be asked to sign organ donor cards before it is granted.

That would give people a good reason to think twice about the choice, and would maximize the benefits associated with those who opt to accept the risks of helmetless riding.

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