Thursday, July 17, 2003

Human tissue barbarity.

A story in today's Austin American-Statesman reports that a San Marcos father specified that his teenaged son's heart, corneas, and bones -- which were harvested while the father was out of the country -- should be donated without profit. When the Red Cross and the eye bank determined that they couldn't guarantee that someone wouldn't make a profit off his son's parts, both firms shipped the parts back: "In a FedEx package came his son's corneas, packed in a preserving solution. In a cooler filled with dry ice Roberts found his son's femurs, kneecaps, hip bones and shoulder blades. His son's heart was in a jar." Nice touch. Granted, the dad was somewhat naive about the workings of the human-tissue industry, and his request undoubtedly put the organizations in a bit of a bind - one that their disclosure forms were drafted to avoid, by putting donor families on notice that some firm or person down the line might make a profit from the donated body parts. But was this the way to handle it? As the peripatetic Art Caplan is quoted as saying: "'Repugnant doesn't capture it,' he said. 'The decision to do that is as serious a breach with the public as you can find. If you want to stop people from donating organs, return them to a funeral home.'"
posted by tommayo, 9:10 PM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter