Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Linda Freel, Rest in Peace


The organ donation of an American Protestant missionary in Korea is being hailed by the progressive, conservative, liberal, and Catholic press respectively — Life-saving gift amid tragedy / American Organ Donor Saves Korean Lives / American teacher's organ donation saves three lives / American woman offers her organs to Koreans.

Call me a monster, but, not disparaging Mrs. Freer's husband's decision, I have to admit, as a Confucian, I am a bit ambivalent about the whole idea of organ donation, preferring instead the integrity of the body over any and all utilitarian and humanitarian concerns.

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4 Comments:

OpenID danightman said...

I have to agree with you based on Sanctity of Life principles. I think, however, the teachings of the Church on the respect owed to our mortal remains in light of it being the temple of the Holy Spirit (and by extension God the Trinity not made by human hands) and the expectation of the general resurrection, that taking non-duplicate vital organs is wrong.

What sealed it for me was hearing Dr. Paul Byrne speak about organ transplantation and "brain death." Before I entered into the Church, I had an organ donation indication on my license; not after that.

There is a reason for the perennial wisdom of the Church and Confucianism on this, and we ignore it to our peril.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Tiago said...

Hopefully the development of iPS stem cell treatment will obviate the need for organ transplants altogether, but for now I leave you with John 15:13 -- Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

I always felt the integrity of the body argument when applied to a cadaver was a bit weak; after all, people who die of organ failure will certainly have their failed organs restored at the Resurrection. The same with those who die in a fire, or those who were hacked into pieces by swords, or whatever other kind of death you care to imagine save outright mummification.

I certainly won't call you a monster for it, though; I can certainly respect your zeal for your own body. This is a matter where we are each free to choose either way.

12:36 PM  
OpenID danightman said...

Re: Tiago,

I have nothing against donating blood (I've done that, and still do) or even a kidney or part of my liver to a family member if required. One kidney will still serve you, and the liver will regenerate.

The larger problem with organ donation of things like your heart and lungs is that, as Dr. Paul Byrne contends, the standards at which you are considered "dead" are a convention and at worst a fabrication.

At the time the protocol was implemented, brain death simply meant that the instruments couldn't pick up your EEG signals, which was considered irreversible. It became apparent, however, that in certain brain injuries the brain was functioning, but at levels that were undetectable due to the swelling, and from which recovery was in fact possible.

Also, as time went on other methods of determining death came into use that, often as not, kill or injure the very patient from whom the organs are desired.

That, to me was the stronger argument.

9:09 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Indeed, the very idea of "brain death" itself is quite vague and subjective, hardly worthy of the exalted names of "medicine" or "science," much like the term "persistent vegetative state" out of which many have come.

That said, the idea of organ donation is, of course, not evil.

1:41 AM  

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.