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Organ Trail

The New York Post says doctors may be harvesting organs from people who aren’t quite dead. And the response to the media from the accused organ donation outfit was also malpractice.

The story was sparked by a lawsuit filed against the New York Organ Donor Network by Patrick McMahon, an Air Force combat vet and nurse practitioner, who says he was fired as a transplant coordinator for protesting the network’s practice of pressuring the families of seriously ill patients to sign organ donation consent forms.

In the suit, McMahon cites four cases of patients who he says were still showing signs of life when they were declared dead — allegedly so that their organs could be quickly collected.

A spokeswoman for the  organ organization first tried to duck media questions by saying she hadn’t seen the lawsuit yet. Then she threw in some ineffective triage.

She told the NY Post that only a doctor can declare a patient brain dead. It was as if she was trying to prove she hadn’t seen the lawsuit — since the suit alleges that it was doctors who were rushing the death judgements.

Stories like this one can be very damaging to an organization – whether the lawsuit has merit or not.  So we would not prescribe the “haven’t seen the lawsuit yet” defense.  You need to respond stat!  But when you do respond — you need more than rhetoric — you need facts.

There was a time when doctors’ decisions were rarely questioned.  Those days are long gone. 

An effective response has to go beyond “trust me, the doctor said they were dead.”


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