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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 22, 2008 / 16 Adar I 5768

Organs harvested before their time

By Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak

The Medicine Men
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Will you be "harvested" before your time? "What? Me be harvested?" you might rightfully be wondering.


Given recent reports and the incentives involved, it's likely that some doctors are indeed taking persons' organs from their bodies before death.


The goal of saving lives (in this case, by transplanting organs) is praiseworthy, but the means to this end involve potentially tragic dilemmas.


Killing innocent people in an attempt to help other people was one form of Nazi experimentation. The ends do not justify the means.


Before a dead person's organs can be harvested for transplanting, the person must be dead. Because solid internal organs (such as the kidneys, liver and heart) deteriorate rapidly after death, transplant doctors want to have an expeditious diagnosis of death so they can morally remove a dead person's organs for transplanting.


In most cases, doctors make a diagnosis of brain death before organs are taken for transplanting. In fact, the diagnosis of brain death was created to allow expeditious organ harvesting.


Brain death is defined as "irreversible coma with absent brainstem reflexes (such as reactions of the pupils to light and other 'automatic' reflexes)."


Yet, "irreversible" implies that doctors can predict the future of a patient in coma; but medical science hasn't reached this degree of perfection. In newspapers as well as in medical books and journals, I've read about many patients who seemed to be in a permanent coma but who then woke up days, months, or even years after doctors incorrectly make the diagnosis of irreversible coma.


Likewise, "absent brainstem reflexes" simply means that the brainstem isn't working properly and generating electrical impulses. But this can be due to what I would call "sleeping" brain cells. Damage to the cells (for example, from lack of oxygen or nutrients) can make them temporarily too weak to generate nerve impulses or EEG signals. With reversal of the damaging condition, the brain cells often heal and resume normal function.


For example, my own mother suffered an oxygen shortage (hypoxia) to her brain several years ago. Her lungs filled with fluid (pulmonary edema) which kept the lungs from absorbing oxygen into her blood, resulting in brain hypoxia. As a result, she was comatose for some days but recovered completely within two months.


Other diagnostic factors such as "low body temperature (hypothermia), sedative or paralytic medicines, or the presence of severe metabolic disorders . . . might confuse the diagnosis of brain death." according to Doctors Steven Laureys and Joseph J. Fins writing in an editorial in the January issue of the medical journal Neurology.


"There are substantial differences in practice that may have consequences for the determination of death and initiation of transplant procedures," Dr. David M. Greer, at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conclude in their article "Variability of brain death determination guidelines in leading US neurologic institutions" in the same issue of Neurology. "Major differences exist in brain death guidelines among the leading neurologic hospitals in the United States."


In addition, different doctors weighted these factors differently in making a brain death diagnosis. Different hospitals also did diagnostic tests somewhat differently.


"Hospitals vary widely in determining brain death" headlined a Jan. 25 Reuters article. Dr. James L. Berna from Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire, described a "disturbing pattern of non-uniformity."


Does this mean an organ harvest could be premature? Other neurologists certainly think so.


In an internet report on Dr. Greer's findings, neurologist Lawrence Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D., editor-in-chief of the "Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons" writes, "In plain, straight talk, the survey indicates a high likelihood that some patients are being 'harvested' in some hospitals before they are dead! In hospitals with aggressive transplant programs (hospitals make a huge amount of money on transplant cases), making sure a patient is dead before going to the 'harvesting suite' may be viewed as a minor technicality" (http://www.aapsonline.org/newsoftheday/0010 "Top hospitals typically disregard brain-death guidelines").


On the same Web site, Neurologist Liz Kamenar commented, "I made detailed outlines for Brain Death criteria available for the ICU [Intensive Care Unit] but they weren't followed even by my own colleagues. The criteria are quite complex and sometimes difficult to do. I was pressured into not 'going by the book' by the Organ Procurement Team. They thought I was working against them. They were more concerned about procuring good organs rather than meeting the criteria for Brain Death."


Doctors Laureys and Fins also write, "doctors need to make all efforts to make sure there is no consciousness left." Alas, by definition, this is an impossible task. Consciousness is self-experience; no possible medical examination or test can diagnose its absence. The "locked-in" state is one example of this difficulty.


Leaving the guidelines up to each hospital indicates a lack of universal guidelines, even within America.


Many transplants (such as blood transfusions, bone marrow transplants, adult stem cell treatments, skin grafts, and living kidney transplants) don't require the death of the donor; these fruitful medical innovations are not at issue here.


The ghoulish possibilities inherent in the haste needed for these other organs disturb me. Dr. Jane Orient's novel "Neomorts" (http://www.janeorient.com/Neomorts.htm) portrays the tragic and dystopian results possible.


To make sure your personal wishes are honored, you can establish an Advanced Health Care Directive (AHCD), and a living will in addition to a Last Will and Testament.


It's a very good idea to designate an agent for healthcare, to make decisions on your behalf when you're unconscious or aren't able to do so yourself. The International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (ITF) http://www.internationaltaskforce.org/ has very lucid Advanced Health Care Directive language adapted the meet the requirements of different states.


No law or person should demand the life of an innocent person, under any pretext. Whether a person is unborn, disabled or extremely ill, I believe life is sacred and is our most fundamental right.


Editor's Note: Robert J. Cihak wrote this week's column.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., is a multiple award winning writer who comments on medical-legal issues. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is a Discovery Institute Senior Fellow and a past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Both JWR contributors are Harvard trained diagnostic radiologists. Comment by clicking here.

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