LifeTree's Statement concerning NC House Bill 1372: 
Organ and Tissue Donation

June 20, 2007

The medical dilemma which I face as a prospective donor is clear.  For vital organs to be successfully taken and transplanted into another person, the donor has only to be declared dead under a variety of available medical criteria.  When a person is truly dead, as can be seen after the fact, the vital organs are no longer useful.

When I am encouraged at the DMV to put a heart symbol on my driver’s license, I am not provided sufficient information to give a medically informed consent.  This legislation, however, would (in section .10 called preclusive effect) lock in my “decision to be a donor” and not permit others (such as my health care agent or spouse) to change it.  There is a general pattern in this section on “preclusive effect.”  Decisions by a donor or other person to make anatomical gifts are locked in.  Decisions to revoke are not locked in and can be changed even when the donor becomes a “decedent” (Sections .11 and .12). 

If I am concerned about this, and do not desire to permit the harvest of my organs under the presently given medical criteria, I might think that doing nothing would suffice.  No symbol on my license.  This legislation, however, in sections .11 and .12 permits a long list of others to make a decision to donate my organs when I have been declared dead, but may not be truly dead. 

It is true that this legislation does permit me to execute a document in which I specifically opt out of organ donation.  It is called a refusal in the bill.  The bill provides for a registry of those who make, amend or revoke anatomical gifts.  However, the rewrite of 20-43.2 provides for keeping track only of those who “make, amend or revoke.”  My refusal thus will not make its way into the registry.  If this happens, sections .11 and .12 allow others to authorize the harvest of my organs unless they have specific knowledge of my refusal.

LifeTree is concerned that life be protected at every stage.  It is wrong to impose death on an innocent human being and to participate in its imposition.  Likewise, we should not encourage others to participate in organ transplantation unless all doubts about death have been removed.  At a minimum, my decision to opt out (my refusal) should also be recorded in the registry which reflects so many decisions about organ donation which can hardly be called truly informed.

Elizabeth D. Wickham, PhD
Executive Director, LifeTree
PO Box 17301
Raleigh, NC, 27619