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04/12/2011

“Just Say No!” To Organs from Suicide Victims?

According to Wesley Smith on his SHS blog, “Suicidal people need help in living, not reasons to die.” Profound statement indeed. Yet, Smith goes on, “to prevent people from using the pretext of organ harvesting as a justification for their suicides, we need to make it very clear that their organs will not be so used…” and therefore the organ transplant community must come out against the use of organs suitable for transplant from those who have terminated their lives.

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Smith’s argument amounts to little more than a call for OPOs to “Take a Stand Against Suicide!” yet ignores the fact that tens of thousands die each year waiting for an organ. Those who die waiting on a transplant list have no other choice they can make–and yet those opting for suicide, as sad and troubling as that choice may be, can benefit those who are suffering in organ failure.

And while it would be truly disturbing if a person willingly killed him- or herself to provide organs to others, this mentally disturbed individual opting for suicide for all the wrong reasons would, I’m certain, be rare indeed.. For those individuals who are so beset by mental anguish, pain and other symptoms that they want no longer to live for these reasons in and of themselves, there can be no good reason why organs harvested and given to others would be morally objectionable. While such suicides are a tragedy, should we simply compound the harm of that choice by denying those suffering from organ failure the chance to live?

Show me the data that says those committing suicides are actively thinking about the organ recipients they could benefit, and then we can talk, Wesley. Otherwise, your argument is nothing but simple moralizing and judgmental thinking about the suicidal dressed up in concern for their welfare.

Summer McGee, PhD

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