My jaw already dropped over this story several days ago when I first learned of it. I've only been waiting to post it until the Islam series was fully launched, because it is on a completely different topic.
I still find this hard to believe, but here it is in cold, hard pixels:
Manhattan is going to start a federally funded pilot program intended to procure more kidneys for transplant. Here's how it will work: The people running the program will monitor 911 calls and dispatch chatter via radio. They will discover from this when someone has collapsed and is in danger of death from apparent or possible heart failure. If an EMT arrives and declares the person dead, the procurement team will rush to the scene where they will have a brief window of time (fifty minutes from declaration of death) to obtain confirmation that the suddenly dead person is on a donor registry and to obtain consent from relatives who happen to be present. The story is unclear as to whether family consent is sufficient even if the person is not on an organ donation registry. (If the person is already on a donation registry, would family consent be necessary?) After getting the required paperwork, the (very new) body will be put into a special ambulance and hooked up to a machine to keep it oxygenated, then rushed to a hospital where the kidneys will be taken.
Oh, and somewhere in that narrow window of time they will also fit a lightning-quick evaluation by a police detective to make sure that there is not going to be a criminal investigation for which the body might be needed.
Imagine the scene: Your previously healthy husband has just collapsed at the dinner table. You frantically call 911. The EMTs show up and declare him dead on the spot. Nothing they can do for him. Sorry ma'am. You are in shock, hardly even able to take in what has happened. Suddenly, entirely uninvited, a whole additional team of complete strangers shows up at your home. They start trying to comfort you, and you try, in your state of shock, to figure out who all these people are. Then they start asking you whether your husband was signed up to be an organ donor. You don't know. Not that you know of. The two of you really hadn't talked about the matter. Look, you ask, is it true? Is he really dead? Can't anything be done? No, ma'am, no ma'am. He's been declared dead. Now, about those organs. Our computer records show that he is listed as being on the registry. He could give the gift of life to someone else. Do we have your permission? Can we take the body? There isn't much time, you see, to get this done. Just sign here, ma'am...
And off they go with his body, in some haste, to get the kidneys.
This is almost beyond comprehension. The vulture-like circling around when a person is overheard to be in danger of dying. The blatant invasion of privacy in coming uninvited to the home of a person who has just collapsed. The unexpected, intense pressure on relatives at the time immediately after a loved one has suddenly died. The short-circuiting of the grieving process. The hasty removal of the body from shocked and grieving relatives. The lack of professionalism in requiring a single police detective to make a rapid decision about whether the body is needed for an investigation. The list of violations of privacy, basic human decency, and professional behavior just goes on and on.
In case you're wondering how this can not be a violation of strict federal laws about giving out private information (how much more private can, "Mr. So-and-so at the following address has just this minute collapsed and may be dead of heart failure" be?), here's how they apparently will be able to get around that, based on my own brief research: EMTs and 911 dispatchers are, understandably, permitted to give out private information over the radio waves for purposes of helping and treating the person in need. If someone else listens in, this is considered an "incidental disclosure," so no one is liable for the release of private information. By getting a good radio scanner, the body snatchers in Manhattan intend quite deliberately to exploit these "incidental disclosures" for purposes that have nothing whatsoever to do with treating the patient (remember the patient?) for whose sake the 911 call has been made.
This absolutely must be outlawed in New York, and such programs absolutely must not be allowed to spread to other locations. In my local community, one technically has to have a permit to come to homes unsolicited to sell magazines. How much more should people be disallowed from coming to your door unsolicited to try to obtain your loved one's internal organs?
Federal funding for such programs must be outlawed by Congress. And the legislature of New York State should immediately pass a law something like the following:
It shall be a [fill in class of offense here] to approach a private residence, apartment, or nursing home facility for purposes of soliciting or obtaining organs for transplant from any person present at, residing in, or recently deceased at said private residence, apartment, or nursing home facility. [Insert penalties here.]
That's it. It's bad enough that relatives can be dinned for the organs of their loved ones who are dying in hospitals. Let's at least leave the families alone whose loved ones die at home.
Oh, and if some distraught, shocked, husband happens to assault one of the Manhattan body snatchers...I more than half hope he doesn't get arrested.