Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New Twist on Washington Organ Donations

Are you an organ donor in the state of Washington? (Do you have a little “heart” on your Driver’s License)?

If so, a King County Judge has ruled that you, along with 2.6 million other drivers in Washington; have given consent to allow local government to harvest and sell your body organs, skin and bone to medical research facilities for a profit. How on earth did this happen? The judge ruled, in a recent lawsuit, that driver's licenses bearing a donation “heart” allow the county to sell or donate body parts to science as well as allowing organs to be transplanted into a living person. Family members are outraged that body organs are being harvested and sold, but apparently do not have the legal authority to stop someone from harvesting a loved one's body parts.

Earlier in the year, KIRO TV reported that the King County Medical Examiner’s Office has been harvesting brains from the corpses of mentally ill clients, selling the brains to research facilities and quietly pocketing the money. The investigators tell us that the county has collected $1.5 million in revenue from the sale of brains.

This grizzly practice is taking place, even though family members have not signed consent forms allowing King County to harvest or sell the brains of loved ones.

The WA State Department of Licensing (DOL) site clearly states that your organ donation will save lives. But it does not inform donors that they are also consenting to donate their body to medical science or allowing their body organs to be sold to medical research facilities across the nation. Of course, some people may be perfectly comfortable with donating their bodies to science, but others may have strong feelings about having their body parts removed and sold to the highest bidder. I believe we should have a choice. Detailed documentation is listed under the investigations tab at KIRO News.

The DOL expressed surprise at the court's interpretation of the organ donor designation and has promised to change the way it recruits organ donors, but DOL workers are not trained to do much more than check a box indicating an individual’s willingness to be an organ donor.

If you want to opt out of donating your corpse to science, write the Living Legacy Registry at 11245 SE 6th Street, Suite 100, Bellevue, WA 98004. The only way to be removed from the list is to send a letter to the Living Legacy Registry removing your self from the list.

For those who want to remain organ donors, the Legacy has a web site where organ donors can specify how their organs will be used after death.


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