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From: (Steven B. Harris )
Subject: Re: Organ banking (Die in my place)
Date: 20 Sep 1995

In <43nv5b$> (Michael Holloway)

>In article <43j478$>,
>Steven B. Harris  <> wrote:
>>   I have the feeling it would only push demand out to a later age.
>>Mostly people die of organ failure, so the demand for young organs is
>>infinite, until your reach the age where the organ failing is your
>The myth that transplantation is primarily used to magically rejuvenate
>the elderly is another urban legend that adversely affects the public's
>appreciation of the need for donation.

Excuse me-- that isn't what I said.  I'm sure that the primary numbers
of very scarce organs go to younger people now, but only because many
organ waiting lists and programs have age limits.  There is also social
pressure for aged people not to apply to programs, but die like good
socially conscious beings so that somebody younger can have their place
in the lifeboat.  Increase the supply of organs and this will all
change.   Is not Mickey Mantle evidence enough that when things get
going, people get organs who never in the world would have even 5 years
ago?  Well, Mantle isn't the end of the line as far as who is going to
try it, as programs expand.

> Transplantation is not a treatment used for organ failure due to old

   Sorry, but there's not official diagnosis of organ failure due to old
age.  You doc will alway name some disease.  Heck, you cannot even put
"old age" as a cause of death in a death certificate in most places.
Just for fun you ought to look up the stats to see how many people
*officially* die of old age in the US every year.  Answer: not many.
But not because it doesn't happen.

>For one thing, it should be fairly obvious that if a patient was so aged
>that an organ is failing just due to sclerosis, this patient would not
>survive the surgery.

   Not at all obvious.  Elderly patients are known to survive surgery
pretty well if they have only one problem, and the surgery addresses it.
 That's why there is not recognized age limit for a bypass operation.
Depends on the patient.

>  The majority of transplants are done on patients from 30 to 55
>years of age.  There are more children on the waiting list than people
>over 65.

Yes, but only due to the lifeboat effect.  More organs will change that
pretty quick.

>Flame wars seem to be popular in this newsgroup.  I don't engage in flame
>wars.  The net is an anonymous medium, but I'm willing to accept that Dr.
>Harris is who he claims to be.  I'm willing to accept that his attitudes
>are due to simple ignorance of something he's unfamiliar with. But I
>will absolutely insist that anyone claiming to be a medical
>professional, and who insists on making public statements affecting the
>perception of transplantation, accept their responsibility to all the
>people on the waiting list.

   Oh please!  You're the guy who was claiming that payments for organs
would not increase donations, on the basis of questionaires people
filled out.  As if such things mirror actual performance in such crises.
Such attitudes would predict that you cannot even increase blood
donations at businesses by offering incentives like time off (equivalent
to cash-- and in fact better since you don't pay tax on it).  Especially
since paid plasma donation is associated with the lower class.  But the
fact is, such incentive programs DO increase blood donations by a great
deal, even in nice middle class businesses and hospitals.  So I think
you'd better think about it a bit more.  Maybe you don't know as much as
you think you do, but are just a defender of the status quo, like so
many people.

                                            Steve Harris, M.D.

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