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Nov 14 2013

Dick Cheney is simply an awful human being

Incurious, unempathetic, soulless dead-eyed bug. That’s our former vice president, who had a heart transplant and doesn’t really care much about who the donor was.

When I came out from under the anesthetic after the transplant, I was euphoric.  I’d had–I’d been given the gift of additional lives, additional years of life.  For the family of the donor, they’d just been [through] some terrible tragedy, they’d lost a family member.  Can’t tell why, obviously, when you don’t know the details, but the way I think of it from a psychological standpoint is that it’s my new heart, not someone else’s old heart. And I always thank the donor, generically thank donors for the gift that I’ve been given, but I don’t spend time wondering who had it, what they’d done, what kind of person.

Generic thank yous, generic bombing, generic military-industrial complex spending. He’s just an empty generic human being, I guess.

I’m just wondering if the family of the donor can ask for it back. It’s obvious he’s not using it.

204 comments

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  1. 1
    moarscienceplz

    Dick Cheney is simply an awful human being

    And in other breaking news, water makes things wet, Pope Francis is a Catholic, and bears defecate in sylvan environments.

  2. 2
    raven

    Who is Dick Cheney? You mean Darth Cheney, don’t you?

    Calling Dick Cheney a poor imitation of a human being is a truism. It’s been known for decades.

  3. 3
    Dunc

    I might have to write some conditions on my organ donor card…

  4. 4
    Trebuchet

    Cheney is awful in a lot of ways, but this doesn’t really strike me as being one of them.

  5. 5
    richardelguru

    I call the flushable shit Lavatory Chainy.
    (Does that date me? Do they still have those bogs with the water container way up high so you can REALLY flush, and a chain to work it??)

  6. 6
    thewhollynone

    And we have been assured that Cheney didn’t jump the line or anything, and we believe that– not.

  7. 7
    doublereed

    Sounds pretty “in character” for him.

  8. 8
    rturpin

    I agree with Trebuchet. If I die in an auto accident, I have zero expectation that any recipients of my organs should want to know about me or try to contact my surviving family.

  9. 9
    Rowan vet-tech

    That boggles the mind. I would always be wondering “Who were you? Who and what did you love and loved you in return?” It’s how I feel every time I see an old old photograph, or pass by a cemetery. I quite literally cannot fathom how someone can’t feel that way.

  10. 10
    Rowan vet-tech

    Mind, I would NOT try to contact the family of a donor organ. That would probably mostly just cause pain.

  11. 11
    Rowan vet-tech

    …. It’s too early for me to be typing. Remove organ, leave donor, I’m going to eat some food and go to work.

  12. 12
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    In 1988, my sister was killed in a car accident. She and two friends were bombing down dirt roads in Arizona, while drunk, and while not wearing seatbelts. When the Jeep rolled, she was thrown from the vehicle and was dead when her head hit the rock. It took quite a while for her body to catch up.

    Her heart, lungs, kidneys, skin, every thing that could be harvested for transplant was harvested. I lost my sister. My parents lost their daughter. Other people, people I’ll never know, kept their loved ones, or their loved one regained sight, or skin. The idea that someone could be so cold, so callous, so lacking in empathy, as to be able to say

    And I always thank the donor, generically thank donors for the gift that I’ve been given, but I don’t spend time wondering who had it, what they’d done, what kind of person.

    strikes me as singularly inhumane.

  13. 13
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    First off, all hail Borkquotia.

    rturupin #8:

    I have zero expectation that any recipients of my organs should want to know about me or try to contact my surviving family.

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting getting in touch with the family, seeking them out. Nor am I going to seek out those who received the transplants. That does not stop me wondering who’s life her heart saved, or who’s life was made better through her corneas.

  14. 14
    blf

    Remove organ, leave donor,

    Yes, that is the initial process. </snark>

     

    And for the people living in “opt-in” jurisdictions (at least): Sign and carry yer donor card!

  15. 15
    Anthony K

    I’m with Trebuchet and rturpin. While I think “And I always thank the donor, generically thank donors for the gift that I’ve been given” does fit with Cheney’s general lack of empathy, I don’t see any reason for policing how recipients should feel about the donors of their organs.

  16. 16
    carlie

    Especially given that he’s currently writing a book about organ transplants, it seems like a HUGE omission to not think at all about the life of the donor or the perspective of the donor’s family.

  17. 17
    barbyau

    He is a man whose very existence has heavily depended upon crushing and destroying others. Through industry, arms sales, and warmongering to name a few. Organ donation is one of the least destructive ways he benefits from someone else’s demise.

  18. 18
    carlie

    It’s also particularly galling from a psychological standpoint given that it’s a heart we’re talking about. You know, the organ that many cultures have historically thought was the seat of our very souls, our humanity. “I give you my heart”. “My heart is yours.” “My heart is broken.” “His heart is black and cold.” Sacrifices to the gods involve ripping out people’s hearts. It’s pretty heavily linked to identity, in a way that something like a spleen is not. Never mind from a humanistic view, the man has no poetry in him if he doesn’t ever wonder about who used to own it.

  19. 19
    Brother Yam

    I, for one, am happy that he had a heart transplant. It’s much more humane than the previous way of keeping him alive: extracting the life essence from kidnapped South American street children.

  20. 20
    Anthony K

    Especially given that he’s currently writing a book about organ transplants, it seems like a HUGE omission to not think at all about the life of the donor or the perspective of the donor’s family.

    I didn’t know this. Yes, in that light, it is a huge omission. Depending on the thesis of the book, such a lack of thought might constitute dereliction and dilettantism. It’s almost as if he has a history of such.

  21. 21
    cogito

    I have to agree with rturpin, Anthony K et al. Cheney has done some despicable things, but he is still a human being. People who go through a crisis, such as a disease necessitating a heart transplant, react in different ways and I an not going to judge them for it. I am a registered organ donor and if it comes to that, I don’t expect any gratitude from the recipient. I dont even care who gets my heart, liver or lungs – I would gladly donate them to a Dick Cheney or someone else I don’t agree with, as long as they are put to use. Does that make me incurious and unempathetic?

  22. 22
    vaiyt

    It’s almost as if he has a history of such.

    With Cheney, we’re far past the “almost” line.

  23. 23
    blf

    If this war criminal is writing a book about organ transplants, it’s probably about how to start more wars and then traffic children from the war zones to “safer” area for organ harvesting, the organs to be sold for profit.

  24. 24
    scienceavenger

    I’m in the Cheney’s-bad-but-not-for-this group. I had to have a blood transfusion when I was born, and without which I would have died. I’ve never really thought about who the donor was, perhaps because I knew I could never find out, perhaps because it was not THAT serious an imposition on them (more like donating hair than a kidney or heart). Still, there is/was some nameless person out there to whom I owe my life, and to whom I’d give thanks if I came face to face with them. But wonder much about them? Naw.

  25. 25
    Anthony K

    Never mind from a humanistic view, the man has no poetry in him if he doesn’t ever wonder about who used to own it.

    I used to fundraise for diabetes research. Many of my volunteers were organ recipients. In some cases, recipients had received kidneys because they had destroyed theirs through an inability or unwillingness to manage their blood sugar (diabetic teenagers are still prone to peer pressure to drink, stay up late, eat junk food, etc.) Many of them felt some measure of guilt for that; many of them had received kidneys from family members.

    Now I’m not an organ recipient, but I know from my limited experience with working with a small subset of organ recipients that the psychology and emotions involved are complex and various. Dick Cheney may be writing a book, and for that he should be curious, at least from an author’s standpoint, but how can anybody demand that he personally feel or experience emotions in the way that we think such a person should feel?

  26. 26
    skeptifem

    Dick cheney is awful, no doubt, but this doesn’t strike me as proof of it.

    Some people are creeped the fuck out by thinking that a dead person’s heart is beating in their chest and prefer not to think about it. Keeping the thoughts generic can help guard against those feelings of unease. He can feel however he wants to about it, and that’s fine with me. I don’t know how I would deal with it because I’ve never had to be in that situation. I find it hard to judge someone who has been through it for their reaction.

  27. 27
    Chengis Khan, The Cryofly

    Awww no, Cheney might know the donor. He generally shoots people, makes it look like a hunting accident, and harvests their organs for himself. Unfortunately he got the brains from a __________. I just found out that I cannot put myself to calling any animal wicked.

  28. 28
    thalamay

    While there certainly is a lot that can be said about Dick, I don’t see the issue with this particular statement. I don’t know how the laws are in the US, but I’m guessing it’s similar to where I live and here you cannot legally get any information on any donor for at least three years after you receive the transplant. I know that because I myself am registered as a bone marrow donor which is needed to battle Leukemia and I was close to actually becoming a donor once…it was on and off for a couple of weeks, as they first contacted me that I’m a potential candidate and that they’d need more blood samples to make sure I’m a good fit, then they said that they had a better fit and then I was called up to jump in within a couple of weeks (which already is strange) only to be called off shortly before the scheduled operation because another donor was found. Of course I don’t know if that’s true or if that’s the standard response when the patient dies, the whole thing certainly sounded suspicious. Be that as it may, I would have been very interested to meet the person I was going to donate my bone marrow to, but I was told that I would have to wait at least three years and that after that waiting period all parties would have to agree. Apart from being a protection from organ trade, I think this forced anonymity also is there to protect the recipient’s psyche. The point of this story being, that when you cannot possibly find out anything about the donor, there really isn’t much point in fantasizing about that person. So the only option is to be thankful in a generic manner.

    BTW, everybody who reads this should get registered as bone marrow donor, all it takes is a little of your blood for their database. A person who suffers from Leukemia has only very few compatible donors out there, and without that, your survival chances are very low indeed, so every additional registration helps. The chances that you’ll ever get called up on it are slim to begin with for that very reason, but even if you’re found to be compatible, most of the time they don’t even need to operate on you but give you some drugs that encourage your bone marrow to produce more stem cells and two days later they hook you up to a machine that filters them out of your blood. If you’ve ever donated blood plasm, you basically know what’s coming, although donating your stem cells will take a couple of hours, but that’s it. In some cases (as in mine, had I been called up to donate) they do need to get to your bone marrow directly, which they usually do in your hip. It’s a very minor operation and you can go home the next day and hardly feel a thing. Within a week you’ll feel like you did before and your body completely recovers.

  29. 29
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Dealing with the reality of Cheney requires more spoons than I’vegot just now, so I’ll limit myself to responding to

    @moarscienceplz, #1:

    And in other breaking news, water makes things wet,

    Really? When particle man’s underwater, does he get wet? Or does the water get him instead?

    ===========
    Now back to your regularly scheduled awfulness.

  30. 30
    ChasCPeterson

    incurious, unempathetic, soulless dead-eyed bug.

    fair enough, but at least now he’s got a pulse. It was more fun when he was bionic.

    I would always be wondering “Who were you? Who and what did you love and loved you in return?”

    right, because the heart is

    the organ that many cultures have historically thought was the seat of our very souls, our humanity.

    I must have no poetry either, ’cause to me silly woo is silly woo.

  31. 31
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Dick Cheney is an awful human being for many reasons.
    Like others, I do not understand why this is one of those reasons.
    PZ, do you think Cheney should feel the same as you on this subject? Why?

  32. 32
    Anthony K

    BTW, everybody who reads this should get registered as bone marrow donor, all it takes is a little of your blood for their database

    Good advice. I’ve been on the registry since I was 17, but I’ve never been matched for marrow, though I’ve been a platelet donor several times.

  33. 33
    Jackie

    My aunt is giving a kidney to a friend this Thanksgiving. I cannot put into words how highly I think of her for literally giving of herself in such a way.

  34. 34
    tashaturner

    Thalamy #28

    BTW, everybody who reads this should get registered as bone marrow donor, all it takes is a little of your blood for their database.

    It might be a good thing for healthy people to do. I’m less convinced for people with chronic or deadly illnesses. I’m not an organ donor because I’ve had strange health problems my entire life that the doctors have never been able to solve and I’m concerned that I might pass something on with my blood or organs given that hundreds of tests run on me have yet to find the cause of my fainting, dizzy spells, chronic fatigue, mis-shaped organs, organs in wrong places or wrong size, and more.

    I know you aren’t trying to make people feel guilty with your statement but some people can’t be donors for a number of reasons but want to be and this is another place where we get to feel like we fail.

  35. 35
    cogito

    Person 1: Hey everybody, get registered as a bone marrow donor!
    Person 2: I feel hurt by your thoughtless comment.
    I give up.

  36. 36
    tashaturner

    How about: BTW, everybody who reads this and is healthy should get registered as bone marrow donor, all it takes is a little of your blood for their database

    @cogito #35 see how that would work for everyone?

  37. 37
    Anthony K

    tashaturner, you’re being a responsible non-donor. As someone who’s donated a lot of blood, plasma, platelets, and volunteered for the Red Cross (later Canadian Blood Services) in all sorts of capacities, I’m well aware that not everyone is eligible or should donate.

    Please do not feel guilty for taking your health and the health of others seriously.

  38. 38
    cogito


    How about: BTW, everybody who reads this and is healthy should get registered as bone marrow donor, all it takes is a little of your blood for their database

    @cogito #35 see how that would work for everyone?

    Don’t you think that is already implied? Why add an unnecessary disclaimer to a perfectly reasonable suggestion?
    By the way, everyone should also register as a blood donor*
    * unless you have a blood borne illness, other transmissible disease, are currently taking prescription medication, undergoing chemotherapy etc etc etc

  39. 39
    cogito

    Sorry about the block quote fail :)

  40. 40
    ButchKitties

    If it weren’t Dick Cheney writing a book, I would really want to give the benefit of the doubt, or even see this stance as sort of healthy. Maintaining that kind of distance and keeping your gratitude generic might be your best defense against survivor’s guilt.

    But I don’t think Cheney is capable of feeling that kind of guilt.

  41. 41
    blf

    tashaturner@24, The idea that there are people who cannot be organ donors because of health issues is one which, put simply and embarrassingly, had never really occurred to me (excepting in certain limited contexts). Thanks for raising the point! I am not a medical professional but it certainly seems plausible.

    Having said that, I will probably continue to say “Everybody, please get your donor card”. Not in an attempt to make those who want to but realize they must not from feeling bad, but as a — maybe too crude — attempt to get some of the far-too-many procrastinating people who can to actually DO so. The people who cannot can, for instance, add, “Yes, please do. Some cannot be donors for medical reasons, but that makes it all the more important that you do.”

    (I actually am inclined towards a “presumed consent” model, where, unless the person themselves (or a guardian) has stated otherwise, and assuming medical conditions permit, the organs can be donated. The rest of the family can go feck themselves, it is not their organs nor was it their life.)

  42. 42
    ismenia

    PZ, for some reason your post reminded me of a joke donor card I once saw on a football magazine. It read “I want to help someone after my death as long as they don’t support…” It came with a block of stickers so you could write in your most hated team.
    (NB this is UK soccer fandom I’m talking about. That kind of banter is standard, for most it is just banter.)

    I’m on the organ donors’ register. You’ve just made me realise that if I died my organs could theoretically go to George Osbourne. Whatever’s left of me would turn in my grave.

  43. 43
    left0ver1under

    So where did the organ come from? China? It wouldn’t surprise, given China’s callous attitude towards transplants, the murder of political prisoners and selling of their organs for profit. The PRC and Cheney are two rotten peas from the same pod, with the same view towards human lives.

  44. 44
    awakeinmo

    He’s had two hearts. And to quote Zim, “More organs means more human.”

  45. 45
    dukeofomnium

    He’s had two hearts. And each was two sizes too small.

  46. 46
    unclefrogy

    Chaney and his heart is an example of one of the unexpected consequences of medical treatment. From an interview I heard the other day seems he has a new book out, he has had heart problems since he was in his early 30′s and if it had not been for the advances in modern heart medicine he would have been dead long ago.
    all the treatment he received only allowed him to live longer not to be a better wiser man such are the limitations of medicine.
    uncle frogy

  47. 47
    kurczaki3

    I am quite surprised that Dick Cheney underwent heart transplant. He is way over 65 which is the cut off for the regular people to undergo heart transplant. Cheney is a clear example of discrepancies in health care and the so called evidence based medicine. Where is the consistency here? How can he receive the heart transplant where people are being told that they do not qualify and are deferred to hospice?

    On the other hand, maybe he needs to live longer so can stand trial for human rights atrocities !!!

  48. 48
    rnilsson

    So, if not for his transplant, Dick Cheney would now have been a heartless bastard?
    So, did anything suddenly materially change?

  49. 49
    rnilsson

    Oh, I forgot: Obamacare. Amirite.

  50. 50
    cogito

    Yeah, kurczaki3, people who lack empathy should be left to die.
    (Am I doing this right..?)

  51. 51
    paulbc

    Hey, finders keepers. It’s in the constitution.

    Seriously, I’m not sure what to make of this. It’s not the most insensitive thing Cheney has ever said. It almost sounds like he may feel actual gratitude, and gets embarrassed at himself for this, so he has to back-pedal. He’d be better off keeping his trap shut, but I can understand wanting to respect the donor’s anonymity rather than finding out more. The issue that didn’t come up is who he had to bump out of line to get it. That’s the appropriate recipient for any regrets.

  52. 52
    blf

    uncle frogy, In addition, as I recall, he had to get a special medical exemption for at least one of the posts he held, and had he not done so, that probably would have stopped him. Sorry I don’t recall the details, and especially don’t recall how he got a the necessary medical exemption. I assume it was underhanded means.

  53. 53
    carlie

    Ok, you’ve all given me a lot to think about, but couldn’t it also be explained in terms of manners? When someone gives you something, you say thank you. It feels to me (yes, I’m talking about feelings), that if you don’t even in your own brain give symbolic thanks to the person who gave you your organ, that’s just plain rude.

  54. 54
    abewoelk

    Since carbon keeps getting recycled over and over again, and has for a very long time, probably every cell in my body belonged at least in part to another living thing at one time or another, perhaps even to other humans. Should I wonder about all those other people whose organic matter I am now using? Or about future people, as yet unborn, who will someday have organic matter that used to belong to me?

  55. 55
    aggressivePerfector

    Actually, I find this refreshingly naturalistic, non-magical thinking. If it was a murderer who donated the heart, should he feel bad that it now sits in his chest? No, because it’s just a machine for pumping blood. Nothing about that murderer that made him bad (I’m talking about the hypothetical donor now) resides in that blood-pumping machine.

    Is there any particular reason one should be more interested in the tragic details of that particular donor than in the details of all other individuals who ‘died before their time’? To say ‘all organ donors deserve equal credit (ceteris paribus),’ doesn’t seem evil to me.

  56. 56
    ledasmom

    I’d had–I’d been given the gift of additional lives, additional years of life.

    I think I’m more concerned about Dick Cheney apparently having multiple lives.

  57. 57
    Anthony K

    If it was a murderer who donated the heart, should he feel bad that it now sits in his chest?

    Of course not. In fact, a murderer’s heart would probably feel right at home amid all of Cheney’s original, murderer’s organs.

  58. 58
    Doubting Thomas

    Pretty much the defining characteristic of conservatives*, lack of empathy or anything like it.

    * and psychopaths.

  59. 59
    thalamay

    @tashaturner #34

    Yeah, I didn’t mean to make people feel guilty with it, I simply wanted to show how little effort it can be to save the life of a suffering person…thinking about it, posting this underneath an article of Dick Cheney might not have been a good idea…anyway, I have the feeling that not many people know how little effort it is, that’s the basic message I wanted to get out there. It’s not anywhere near like giving a kidney.
    But medical reasons obviously trump this. For example, right now I’m on a medication that prevents me from donating blood. It could very well also prevent me from donating bone marrow should another compatible patient be found, which would be sad of course but nobody’s fault.

    At the same time, I wouldn’t even hold it against anyone if they didn’t want to become a bone marrow donor despite being healthy and despite it not being that big of a deal. It’s everyone’s personal decision, it simply shouldn’t be determined by false impressions, that’s why I put this information out there.

    I myself am struggling with the idea of becoming an organ donor. In principle, I have no problem with donating my organs once I don’t need them anymore (but I know of others who do have these fundamental objections), but at the same time, I’ve heard many stories about people being declared brain-dead quite readily, possibly prematurely, if they are indeed registered organ donors. I’m aware that this is hypocritical in a way and if everyone was registered, there probably wouldn’t even be any pressure to “mine” organs because there would be enough organs going round. Still, I’m not registered yet…I’m hoping for technology to solve this problem I guess…

  60. 60
    Anthony K

    I’ve heard many stories about people being declared brain-dead quite readily.

    I wouldn’t worry about it. Most Slymepitters aren’t actually doctors. Their opinion carries little weight.

  61. 61
    OldEd

    I am an organ recipient: a kidney. I got it the way I suppose all – or almost all – transplant recipients get their organ these days: thru UNOS – the United Network for Organ Sharing.

    I was told a couple of things about my organ and my donor.

    (1) The donor was a just-turned-12 male from Texas.

    (2) After a fatal accident his parents donated.

    (3) That I could write a note to those parents, and it would be purged of all identification of the recipient (me) and sent to them.

    We did so.

    I and my wife will be eternally grateful to those parents, who, in the midst of their grief, could think of allowing another to benefit from their tragedy.

    My wife and I worked very hard to convey both our condolences and our gratitude for their gift. It gave a then 71 year old male a new lease on life.

    I received “my” kidney 17 months ago. On the anniversary of my transplant I quietly celebrated that young mans life, and his death, and commiserated with his parents. I intend to observe this date for as long as I can. Obviously they do not know this.

    I am not even certain that they received our note.

    I am not at all religious, and neither is my wife, nor our daughter, nor her husband. Our granddaughter is being raised the same way.

    That does not prevent me from being human, and from trying to understand the gaping wound that their child’s death must have created in their lives. I know that a similar situation would have been devastating for me and my wife.

    I do not like Mr. Cheney. Not in the least. I feel that he is an evil man. That said, if he can’t dwell on the person whose heart now beats in his chest, well, just maybe that is his only way of coping with the situation he finds himself in.

    In this matter, and in this matter ONLY, I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

  62. 62
    Anthony K

    Thanks for that perspective, eoleen.

  63. 63
    draconius

    I’d had–I’d been given the gift of additional lives…

    Wait… like Mario or something? 1-UP? Is Cheney going to come back after he dies? WTF?

    No scratch that Mario simile, because it’s more like how every villain in a classic horror movie comes back after being killed several times.

    Just to be safe, I say we cremate Cheney when he dies.

  64. 64
    coraxyn

    Incurious, unempathetic, soulless dead-eyed bug. BUG!?!?!?!?!? Insects, will have you know, have wonder souls!!!. They are colourful, do many useful things on this planet, and just generally nice to hang with. So PLEASE do not compare this noble phylum to HIM! Grr. Etc.

    Have nice day :)

  65. 65
    Anthony K

    Just to be safe, I say we cremate Cheney when he dies.

    That’s all we need. Dick Cheney in incorporeal, smoke form.

  66. 66
    ChasCPeterson

    Insects:
    have wonder souls!!!.

    wut

    They are colourful,

    some are. Not most.

    do many useful things on this planet

    true!

    just generally nice to hang with.

    yeah, not so much.

    on-topic:
    My brother lives in Jackson, Wyoming, as does Cheney, and back before his new heart and before his bionic pump, he had an electronic pacemaker. I tried to get my brother to organize a 10-minute period when everybody in the valley ran their microwave ovens at the same time, just in case. Now it’s too late to find out.

  67. 67
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    abewoelk @ 54:

    Since carbon keeps getting recycled over and over again, and has for a very long time, probably every cell in my body belonged at least in part to another living thing at one time or another, perhaps even to other humans. Should I wonder about all those other people whose organic matter I am now using? Or about future people, as yet unborn, who will someday have organic matter that used to belong to me?

    You’re comparing a natural process which recombines extant material from multiple unknown sources with a medical procedure that utilizes already formed material from one anonymous source. And you’re doing it to excuse Cheney of his lack of empathy. What a strange point at which to dig your heels in.

  68. 68
    skeptifem

    How about: BTW, everybody who reads this and is healthy should get registered as bone marrow donor, all it takes is a little of your blood for their database

    Thats to get matched, don’t understate the actual procedure. I’ve seen bone marrow being harvested, its pretty horrible. The time I saw it was just for testing so they only had to poke one hole in the patient’s bone.

    When harvested for transplant they have to do it over and over again. A doctor lays you on your stomach and shoots numbing medication under your skin and around the bone (its near where your tailbone and hips meet). Then they use what seems like a giant medical corkscrew to pop a huge needle through the outer portion of the bone (they literally lean on you and twist, the doctor I saw peform this procedure was a small woman so she had to work very hard to get through it). An outer part comes off the device once its in the bone, and after that they can syringe out bone marrow (which looks like lumpy, weird blood). It still hurts but the numbing medicine does help some.

    BMT patients generally have a 50% (or less) survival rate. The ones that live are usually very unhealthy for the rest of their lives.

    My aunt died after a bone marrow transplant, and I’ve worked on BMT units so I know how ugly it can get. I’m not saying all this to discourage anyone from being a donor, they just need to know what they are signing up for.

  69. 69
    skeptifem

    In some cases (as in mine, had I been called up to donate) they do need to get to your bone marrow directly, which they usually do in your hip. It’s a very minor operation and you can go home the next day and hardly feel a thing. Within a week you’ll feel like you did before and your body completely recovers.

    yeah, that isn’t how it goes for everyone. I’m glad you were lucky.

    I only had to take motrin after a major abdominal surgery, but I won’t be recommending it to people any time soon.

  70. 70
    abewoelk

    At throwaway, No. 67, I didn’t say a word about Cheney, pro or con. I was merely musing over the fact that there’s probably a lot of very interesting history in the cells in my body.

  71. 71
    procyon

    It’s a well kept secret, in ultra-rich conservative circles, that Dick Cheney and Rupert Murdoch co-own a small island somewhere in SE Asia where they have a farm that raises black-market children from whom they harvest organs in their quest to live forever.

  72. 72
    firstapproximation

    Does anyone really believe this is the first human heart Cheney has used to stay alive?

    I’m fairly certain he drinks human blood out of the skulls of his enemies and powders himself with the crushed bones of the poor every night before he goes to bed.

  73. 73
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    abewoelk @ 70: Are you saying that your questions at the end of your trivializing analogy weren’t meant rhetorically?

  74. 74
    carlie

    aggressivePerfector at 55:

    Is there any particular reason one should be more interested in the tragic details of that particular donor

    I don’t see anyone saying he should show interest in “tragic details” of the death of the donor. But seriously, never even a “gee, wonder if the person who had this ate well or if there’s some cholesterol buildup in there”?

  75. 75
    Hank_Says

    I heard that the surgeons spent most of their time during the transplant operation removing the Hellraiser puzzlebox that had previously kept Cheney alive.

  76. 76
    abewoelk

    At throwaway, no. 73, I’m saying those questions had nothing to do with Dick Cheney, and don’t read more into them than was actually there. To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a cigar really is just a cigar.

  77. 77
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    To paraphrase, your questions, after posing the analogy, were the equivalent of “Should I think of all the things that died in order for me to live?” That’s hardly a reasonable question to even begin pondering due to the exaggerated requirements placed upon you to think about all the myriad processes and events and lifeforms which sum to your total being. Whatever carbon atom you got from a tiktaalik could have just as well come from a Rhesus monkey. I think you’re bullshitting me, trying to avoid being pinned down to any one point.

  78. 78
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    –I’d been given the gift of additional lives,

    I can just see him threatening the arcade attendant, demanding that he pop open the coin tray and poke the counter to give him extra guys.

  79. 79
    Travis

    I have to agree with the many others here that have said they do not feel this says much about him at all. To me this just seems like a weak dig at someone we all know is odious. I condemn Cheney for a lot of things, but not this. Much like scienceavenger above, I owe my life to a blood transfusion I received just after being born. While this is not of the same magnitude as an organ transplant I do owe my life to it. I do not care who it came from, a good person, a bad person, or anything. I hope my body will be of use to someone in the future and I don’t care who gets my bits and pieces, or if they ever think about me. I don’t expect them to think about me. That is not the point.

  80. 80
    anteprepro

    Abe the first:

    Should I wonder about all those other people whose organic matter I am now using? Or about future people, as yet unborn, who will someday have organic matter that used to belong to me?

    Abe the second:

    I didn’t say a word about Cheney, pro or con. I was merely musing over the fact that there’s probably a lot of very interesting history in the cells in my body.

    Bullfuckingshit, you weren’t “merely musing” over “interesting history”. You were merely dismissing the idea that someone should show concern/interest over who might have died so that they could get a life saving organ transplant. That is clearly the tone in which your “Should I wonder” comment is made. That is the clearest, simplest explanation for why you would even bring up the issue in this thread. “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” indeed.

  81. 81
    dickdave

    @38

    By the way, everyone should also register as a blood donor*
    * unless you have a blood borne illness, other transmissible disease, are currently taking prescription medication, undergoing chemotherapy etc etc etc

    One of those etcs being “are gay”. Don’t forget. Gay blood is still not acceptable. (At least not in the U.S.) Even if you’re type O-. (And that would be me).

    [/derail] While I believe Cheney is an awful person, I can’t see the awfulness in this comment. I imagine that I’m considered a cold, heartless (haha!) person by some. And though I suspect I would, were I an organ recipient, wonder about the donor, I’m not entirely certain that I would even think to voice (or process aloud) those moments of wondering.

  82. 82
    anteprepro

    While this is not of the same magnitude as an organ transplant I do owe my life to it. I do not care who it came from, a good person, a bad person, or anything.

    Would you care if you knew that person had to be dead in order for you to have gotten your transfusion? The issue isn’t so much gratitude as empathy. You are empathetic knowing that someone had to have died in order for you to get a heart transplant. No such empathy is required for someone who gave you a blood transfusion, unless they were using incredibly large syringes that day.

    And though I suspect I would, were I an organ recipient, wonder about the donor, I’m not entirely certain that I would even think to voice (or process aloud) those moments of wondering.

    Again, not what Cheney has done. Cheney didn’t fail to voice his moments of wondering: he explicitly voiced that he does not wonder. In addition to saying that he thinks of it as “his new heart” and refuses to think of it as anyone else’s “old heart” (i.e. he is selfish/egocentric and makes a conscious effort to mentally erase the donor from the equation). It is those two sentiments, explicit and in conjunction with one another, that make Cheney colder than the average cold person.

  83. 83
    Steven Brown: Man of Mediocrity

    Huh. I guess we now know WHY Cheney has no empathy: He clearly played too many computer games at one point. Not only have those games trivialized other peoples lives but they’ve also given him the idea that friendly fire doesn’t hurt your own team mates and that if you die you get to come back so long as you’ve got an extra heart.

    This would never happen if people spent more time out side.

  84. 84
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Agreeing with those who talk against judging how others feel about their transplants.

  85. 85
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    There is at least one positive to prolonging Cheney’s life: There is more time to indict him for all his crimes.

  86. 86
    kevinalexander

    Since we’re coming into the season of feel good holiday movies I see a potential new version of A Christmas Carol.
    A snarling sociopath gets a heart from a kind human being and learns at last what it means to be human.
    Then, in my version at least, he realizes the enormity of his crimes and his new heart fails under the strain and his soul burns forever in hell.
    Holiday movies should always have a happy ending.

  87. 87
    inflection

    Oh, I don’t know that it’s so bad for him not to try to contact them. Maybe they don’t know.

    After all, imagine the horror if you had a loved one who was devoted to generously improving the lives of other people right up to and after his last breath, even donating his organs for medicine, and who does the heart go to? Dick Cheney…

  88. 88
    carlie

    I think I’m going to have to land on the side of no, he’s an ass for not feeling any gratitude towards the family who made the donation (families can, after all, veto a person’s donation request, and they have to give specific permission for it to happen). I don’t know what kind of psychological issues there are in getting a transplant, but there are some parts of reality that it’s just morally wrong to pretend don’t exist. It’s the same erasure as thanking God for coming out of surgery without sparing a thought for the surgical team who really were responsible. It’s the same erasure as thinking you’re brilliant when your company pitch gets accepted, when you only handed over the paperwork that someone else created. It’s the same erasure as every time someone refuses to give credit to anyone who did something for them, because of course they’re fantastic and simply deserved for these good things to happen to them.

    Nobody’s saying he should contact the family (please, no). Nobody’s saying he needs to sit and dwell for hours on the particulars of the donor and his/her life. But he specifically said that he has never even thought about them, not once. He’s never thought of donors as anything but an anonymous pool for parts, and gee thanks for that. He’s writing a book, about which the publisher says “”For the first time, the vice president will tell the very personal story of his 35-year battle with heart disease, from his first heart attack in 1978 to the heart transplant he received in 2012,”, and Cheney says “”Through the story of my own personal experience with heart disease, I hope to provide education, inspiration and hope to the millions of Americans who are facing similar challenges.”. It’s a personal experience for him, but he doesn’t even contemplate that it is a personal experience for someone else, too, not even in the course of writing a book about it. He’s erasing what had to happen in order for him to get that benefit, and I think that is morally bankrupt and I will think less of him for it.

  89. 89
    Fionnabhair

    I’m an organ donor; in Nova Scotia, I was given the option to register when I applied for my health card (and it’s written on my health card as well my health card has “Donor A” stamps on it, indicating that they’ve got permission to take anything and everything; “Donor B” is there for people who are registered to donate some organs and tissues, but not everything). I was a regular blood donor as well, until it started making me feel sick/faint.

    Obviously I won’t get any say in the matter, but if any of my organs were going to, say, a war criminal or something, I feel like the world would be better off if said organ were left to rot in what remains of my corpse.

  90. 90
    Anri

    Cheney is perfectly free to think whatever he likes about the person who donated the heart.

    And I am perfectly free to think that curiosity and empathy are hallmarks of emotionally mature human beings, and that Cheney’s abject failure to show a smidgen of either in this rather extreme circumstance says something important about him.

    I dunno if that’s PZ’s point, but it’s mine.

  91. 91
    Taemon

    Or… the donor might easily be a huge Cheney fan who would have been thrilled at the idea of having saved Cheney’s life.

  92. 92
    chuck miller

    GIVE it back! There are USEFUL HUMANS that need these organs.
    The heart of a PIG is more like him. GIVE BACK the trillions you LOST at the pentagone!

  93. 93
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    Taemon @ 91:

    Or… the donor might easily be a huge Cheney fan who would have been thrilled at the idea of having saved Cheney’s life.

    You’re wondering if that’s the case. But Dick “psychologically thinking” Cheney sees it as his new heart, never wondering about the specific individuals. Their shared humanity, what their dreams may have been, whether they lived a fulfilling enough life, if he may have inadvertently led to their death somehow (as he is someone with substantial power), none of that. Those were my first thoughts as I put myself in the position of new transplantee.

    Maybe he doesn’t have to wonder about those things to be a decent person. Maybe the feeling of gratefulness and overwhelming appreciation are genuinely directed at all living and former donors. That could be seen as decent. It just doesn’t mesh with the refusal to casually wonder about the individuals who gave their lives for him to live. It’s like his empathy algorithm fails to perfectly emulate humanity. The dood’s a war criminal who advocated for torture and accepted the apology of the guy he shot, profited off of a war that his cabal orchestrated based on deceit and helped to use the deaths of the September eleventh attacks to springboard an unprecedented domestic spying and surveillance program.

    Maybe I’m just presuming that this lack of empathy is indicative of sociopathy because it comes from a sociopath. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about using my right hand to hold the knife when I cut my steak, just because Cheney does the same. But the guy says he’s OK with the C.I.A. violating human rights on his watch… I will worry.

    Anri @ 90: Nail. Head. Hit.

  94. 94
    dianne

    I’m surprised that Cheney was even a candidate for heart transplantation. If for no other reason then because I’m surprised that there’s a doctor in the country who could do the surgery in good conscience. I’d have to defer myself from seeing him if he presented here: my feelings about him are such that I could not say that I could treat him objectively. Maybe Bill Frist did the surgery or something.

  95. 95
    Richard Smith

    I’ve always assumed that, since Blood Services don’t want my blood because maybe CJD (years of all-natural human growth hormone treatment), my organs would be likewise blacklisted. I should probably actually do some checking to see if that’s the case and, if not, get myself registered officially as a donor. Of course, there’s always also donation to science if it is… Something I should have done a bit sooner, as I just got my shiny new health card for the next five years.

  96. 96
    johnbyfleet

    It’s an unknown unknown to me that Cheney even has a heart, no matter who it used to belong to.

    What has he ever used any of his collection of hearts for?

  97. 97
    vaiyt

    There is at least one positive to prolonging Cheney’s life: There is more time to indict him for all his crimes.

    And a negative: he has time to commit yet more crimes.

  98. 98
    Erlend Meyer

    I have to side with the minority here, Cheney might very well be a horrible person but I smell an irrational hate here that I don’t much care for. Aren’t we supposed to be the sensible and rational ones?

    I’m not sure if I would act any differently, partly out of fear of feeling responsible for the life of someone who’s already dead. I’d be eternally grateful, but knowing too much about the donor could be a burden I wouldn’t handle too well. Don’t underestimate the psychological impact of such events, and don’t judge someone too harshly before you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.

  99. 99
    carlie

    Erlend,
    Again, at least for me, I’m not saying he needs to go dredging up details about the other person, or try to contact their family, or anything of the sort. I’m saying that what you said:

    I’d be eternally grateful,

    Isn’t a level he’s achieved. He hasn’t even been momentarily grateful. He has no specific feelings of gratefulness at all, and I think that makes him a selfish and, well, heartless, person.

  100. 100
    moarscienceplz

    Cheney might very well be a horrible person but I smell an irrational hate here that I don’t much care for. Aren’t we supposed to be the sensible and rational ones?

    There’s nothing irrational about hating a person who has a demonstrated pattern of evil intents and actions, and I use the word ‘evil’ deliberately. It’s hard for a mere citizen to tease out exactly who did what in the GWB White House, but it is a fact that Cheney was no run-of-the-mill Vice President. He set up his own organization to be virtually a parallel command and control structure to that of the President, so it’s not a stretch to consider him a co-president and thus fully as culpable as Bush himself. It’s also a fact that he has never denied being a champion for waterboarding, he just denies that it qualifies as a form of torture, despite the fact that much of the world, and past rulings of the U.S. government say this it is torture.

    It is also demonstrable that he and Bush created an atmosphere within the government and the military that encouraged the abuses at Abu Graib prison, and encouraged the outing of Valerie Plame’s undercover work as a nasty bit of retaliation for her husband pointing out that Bush lied about the yellowcake uranium in his State of the Union speech.

    Add to that that Cheney supported the creation of America’s very own gulag at Guantanamo Bay, and I think there is PLENTY of rationale to hate this shitty little man.

  101. 101
    gillyc

    Skeptifem @68 (and anyone else who is interested):

    It’s usually not necessary to harvest bone marrow that way. I know because I was a donor about 8 years ago.

    There as alternative procedure (which I was told was just as good) where they give you a course of injections over the space of about a week – the injections make your bone marrow go into overdrive, churning out stem cells (well – some kind of cells anyway, I’m sure someone here will correct me if I’m wrong!) which are then harvested from your blood over one or two three hour sessions (mine took two sessions, but I was told it’s usually one) in the same way platelets are. And they put me up at a hotel overnight as the hospital where they did it was some distance away, and they paid all my travel costs, and if I recall correctly I was also compensated for loss of earnings.

    They gave me a very thorough health check first and were clear that if they found anything wrong with me at all they wouldn’t go ahead with it.

    The injections can make you feel a bit achey and I did take the next day or two off work as I felt tired but that might have been more due to the travel and feeling a bit stressed out over it.

    I get a christmas card every year from the British Bone Marrow Donor Registry. Oh, and they sent me flowers afterwards, too.

    Sorry I can’t remember all the details, it was quite a while ago but I never regretted and I probably saved someone’s life. All I know is that the person lived in Vienna. So I guess there’s some kind of pan-european matching system.

    Anyway, hopefully that might help anyone considering going on the register make their mind up!

  102. 102
    Davol White

    What blows my mind about Dick Cheney is how he had never been right. Nothing he has ever said or did has ever been correct or right, but instead have been perfect and often disasterous demonstrations of wrong. How someone like Dick Cheney can be as successful as he is with nothing to look back on except a carreer of being consistantly wrong is what blows my mind. But then he always sounds like he knows what he’s talking about.

  103. 103
    philisyssis

    Some people spend time wondering about the donor for the part they received. Other people do not spend time wondering. Can someone explain to me how that means they’re an aweful person?

    I’m not seeing the “aweful” in the quote that PZ made.

  104. 104
    Doug Little

    This is way off topic but have you seen this PZ?

    Octodad: Deadliest Catch

  105. 105
    Usernames are smart

    I want Dick Cheney to live a long life.

    I want him to forget about the past.

    I want him to grow careless and attend the family on a “vacation” to Switzerland.

    And I want the Swiss—one of the last law-abiding peoples on this earth—to arrest, charge, convict and lock the fucker up for life for War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity.

  106. 106
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    philisyssis @ 103:

    Some people spend time wondering about the donor for the part they received. Other people do not spend time wondering. Can someone explain to me how that means they’re an aweful[sic] person?

    Not ‘some people’. Dick Cheney. Incurious, antipathetic to empathy, Dick Cheney. Given everything we know about the man, it reads like he’s skipping down the halls, on top of the world, singing into each dying patients room “Hey you, thanks for your liver! And you, that kidney’ll be mine soon, thanks so much! Do I care what’s killing you? Of course not! You’re just my organ bank, nameless shapeless masses of organs! A joy to behold! I’m so *snickering* grateful to my generic benefactors!” So yeah, Cheney is an “aweful” person for this and many other things.

  107. 107
    Erlend Meyer

    moarscienceplz: There’s nothing irrational about hating a person who has a demonstrated pattern of evil intents and actions

    I don’t disagree, a man or woman must be judged by their actions. But as a non-US citizen I am apprehensive of the propaganda and rhetorics spewed by both sides. Whether it’s the bi-partisan system or just the US way of doing things, your politics seems awfully polarized. I usually read the other side’s view (I’m interested in guns), and the irrationality in their arguments makes me wonder if the left side of media (the side I see at home) isn’t just as bad.

    I guess I’m just a moderate conservative by European standards, which makes me a bleeding heart liberal by US standards that messes with things…

    Anyways, I’d like to repeat the old adage about not judging a man to harshly. I don’t rally care about people I don’t know, I respect and value them but don’t really care like some people to do for everybody from the next door neighbor to a stranger on the street. Or perhaps I just can’t meter out a controlled amounts of care, I either have to care like they’re family or not at all because caring puts a tremendous strain on me.

    Either way, I’d probably act similar to Dick here, choosing not to reflect too much on the donor and rather focus on what I believe is the proper way of living a good life. If anybody could use one of my organs after I’m dead, good for them. I’m dead, so I can’t object to anything and while I know it might go to someone that deserves to die I put my trust in the good of mankind.

    This is the one faith I carry regardless of evidence and experience: Humans are generally good people.

    I might not always believe in it, but it’s better to cling to that belief than loosing all hope.

  108. 108
    anteprepro

    Erlend Meyer:

    I am apprehensive of the propaganda and rhetorics spewed by both sides….I usually read the other side’s view (I’m interested in guns), and the irrationality in their arguments makes me wonder if the left side of media (the side I see at home) isn’t just as bad.

    Good god. Fallacy of the golden mean, false dichtomy, appeal to moderation, etc. etc. Nothing against you, but we hear a lot of this shit. In Pharyngula and in U.S. politics. It is a common fucking meme. Tut-tutting “both sides,” insinuating they are both “just as bad”, and insisting the truth is in between the two “extremes”. Oh, yes, U.S. politics are polarized. But one side is more polarized than the other, if you get my drift. You actually acknowledge that you this too, since you know that U.S. left is really in the middle of other countries’ political spectrums. Having a knee-jerk reaction against the U.S. left really is just buying into the bullshit. Buying into the belief that our politics are two different sets of extremists, instead of one group trying to drive us off a cliff and another angrily muttering about how we should head to a rest stop first.

    Either way, I’d probably act similar to Dick here , choosing not to reflect too much on the donor and rather focus on what I believe is the proper way of living a good life.

    You make a good point, but the bolded sections together got a dark, bitter laugh out of me.

  109. 109
    chris61

    I believe organ donation should be an opt out rather than an opt in program and so I see nothing wrong with what Dick Cheney said (in this case although for the most part I think everything about Dick Cheney is wrong). With a directed donation from a live donor it would be uncaring not to show an interest in that donor but otherwise I see nothing wrong in being grateful to the organ donor program rather than a specific donor.

  110. 110
    kyuss

    @ blf (#41)
    I actually am inclined towards a “presumed consent” model, where, unless the person themselves (or a guardian) has stated otherwise, and assuming medical conditions permit, the organs can be STOLEN. The rest of the family can go feck themselves, it is not their organs nor was it their life.

    There, I fixed it for you. The thought that the government could swoop in after my death and STEAL my organs because I haven’t “opted out” is the most offensive thing I’ve read today. The government doesn’t have the right to any part of my estate – even if I die intestate – so why should they have the presumed “right” to STEAL my organs? Presumed consent is a fundamental violation of personal integrity and should NOT be tolerated in any free society.

    As to Dick Cheney, PZ you’re on crack. So what if he doesn’t give two shits about where his heart came from. You’re just picking nits because you find him personally distasteful.

  111. 111
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    kyuss #110

    There, I fixed it for you. The thought that the government could swoop in after my death and STEAL my organs because I haven’t “opted out” is the most offensive thing I’ve read today.

    Why? You won’t be there. There won’t be a you to care.

  112. 112
    anteprepro

    kyuss:

    The thought that the government could swoop in after my death and STEAL my [precious bodily fluids] because I haven’t “opted out” is the most offensive thing I’ve read today. [Mostly because it is the only thing I have read today, but my reading habits are none of your concern!] The government doesn’t have the right to any part of my estate [except for in taxes or if I have no will and testament and no next of kin]. So why should they have the presumed “right” to STEAL my [precious bodily fluids]? Presumed consent is a fundamental violation of personal integrity [which is especially important when you are dead] and should NOT be tolerated in any free society. [The corpse's rights movement begins today! Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves! Post-living Americans are just as deserving of freedoms as anyone else!]

    As to Dick Cheney, PZ you’re on crack. [And I should know, I am an expert on the matter!] So what if he doesn’t give two shits about [who] his heart came from. You’re just picking nits because you find him personally distasteful. [Because disliking compulsively lying, pro-torture, warmongering politicians who started wars on false pretenses and felt no sense of guilt or shame about it is ultimately just a matter of taste. But presumed consent to organ donation is totes objectively deplorable. I am sure that is all clear. Thank you for your time, folks!]

    Hey kyuss, I returned the favor you gave to blf and fixed your post for you. I hope you will find the edits make for a much better read. No need for monetary compensation, as long as you allow me to use you as a job reference for my next editing gig.

  113. 113
    Pierce R. Butler

    May Dick Cheney live long enough to stand trial, and serve most of a very long sentence.

  114. 114
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    anteprepro #112

    The corpse’s rights movement begins today! Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves! Post-living Americans are just as deserving of freedoms as anyone else!

    Heh!

  115. 115
    anteprepro

    May Dick Cheney live long enough to stand trial, and serve most of a very long sentence.

    May Dick Cheney live long enough for them to learn how the proper medical techniques to revive his conscience. And may he live just long enough to finally feel guilt proportionate to his deeds. And not much longer.

    (The sad part is I think my scenario is more likely to happen than Cheney seeing a trial, let alone going to jail. Welcome to America!)

  116. 116
    chigau (違う)

    What happens during The Resurrection Of The Dead® if your bits are all scattered hither and yon?

  117. 117
    kyuss

    @111
    Why? You won’t be there. There won’t be a you to care.

    It’s the principle of the thing. My organs are mine. Not yours. No one else has a right to them – even after I die. The government can keep their filthy hands off of me, kthanx.

    @112
    Sure there are reasons to dislike Dick. What he said about organ donation is not one of them and I suspect that if it was anyone else who said such a thing, PZ wouldn’t have noticed or cared. But, since he has such a hate-on for the man, every utterance from Dick is to be viewed in the worst, most despicable light. Oh, and your ad hominem attacks [I don't read much, I must smoke crack - hilarious and insightful!] are pathetic and stupid.

    If organ donation is so important, then the government can get off their wallet and pay my estate for my organs. You need a lung transplant? Buy one.

    The sense of entitlement that some of you people have is ridiculous.

  118. 118
    chris61

    kyuss,

    Your organs are of no use to you after you are dead. Nor to anyone else for that matter unless they are properly treated by qualified medical personnel.

  119. 119
    anteprepro

    It’s the principle of the thing. My organs are mine. Not yours. No one else has a right to them – even after I die.

    Above: Libertarian performance art.
    No matter how absurd the scenario, it always translates into MIIIIIINE

    Oh, and your ad hominem attacks [I don't read much, I must smoke crack - hilarious and insightful!] are pathetic and stupid.

    Wait…who was the one who brought up crack again? I wonder…

    If organ donation is so important, then the government can get off their wallet and pay my estate for my organs.

    Because giving a market value to organs is such a fucking brilliant idea! Some people would say that human lives are priceless. But Libertarians know better!

    The sense of entitlement that some of you people have is ridiculous.

    Because “noooooo you can’t use anything in MY body, even to save your life, even if I am already dead, because MIIIIIIIIINE” isn’t entitled, at all. Suuure.

  120. 120
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    kyuss #117

    My organs are mine. Not yours.</blockquote

    A: Then opt out if it means so much to you.
    B: What pert of "you won't be around to own anything" do you find hard to grasp?

    If organ donation is so important, then the government can get off their wallet and pay my estate for my organs. You need a lung transplant? Buy one.

    Ah, the milk of human kindness.

  121. 121
    anteprepro

    Your organs are of no use to you after you are dead.

    But, you see, it is the principle of the thing. And that principle is MIIIIIIINE. Who cares if organs could be useful if taken out of a dead body and are useless if merely left in it. Property rights are absolute and life is only valued insofar as life is incidentally benefited by one’s sacred property rights. TROOF

  122. 122
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Preview is my friend…

  123. 123
    chigau (違う)

    kyuss
    After you are dead, your estate will do whatever it wants.
    No matter what you put in your Will, the better lawyer will win.
    But not you.
    Because you are dead.

  124. 124
    What a Maroon, oblivious

    Why could it possibly matter what happens to the offal you leave behind? As far as I’m concerned, if my leftovers can help someone else, they’re welcome to them. Otherwise, just dispose of them in the way that does the least damage to the earth.

  125. 125
    Erlend Meyer

    anteprepro: I wasn’t trying to say (although I did seem to suggest it) that both sides are equally bad, but I’m not arrogant enough to assume that our side is squeaky clean either.

    In this case I feel PZ is guilty of an irrational hate for DC. I’m not saying he’s a good person, far from it, but that doesn’t mean that every word from his lips are pure evil. Honestly, if Dick were to save a litter of kittens from drowning some would automatically assume that he either was hungry or that he felt drowning was too kind for them.

    Guess I just can’t stand the sound of marching, I need to walk out of step.

  126. 126
    mykroft

    PZ, I think you pressed the Easy Button on this one. Pointing out that Dick Cheney has some character deficits in this venue is like passing out wine and horde-’oeuvres at a dinner party. Gets everyone talking.

    The more interesting aspect of this story for me is the act of donating organs after you die. My personal choice is “take what you can use, burn the rest”. As I put more miles on this body however, I think there will be less and less utility in harvesting my organs.

    For others however, the problem may be that there are more reasons not to donate than to donate. Procrastination (I’ve got lots of time), denial (I don’t plan on dying), squeamishness (they’d cut me open!), not to mention the resurrection argument (I’m going to heaven with my body intact, thank you!); all reasons (among many other rationalizations) that healthy people don’t check that box on their drivers license.

    So the moral question then becomes, as a society do we want this as opt in or opt out choice? Each has pluses and minuses. Opt in, and you get a voice in what happens to your body after you’re done with it. You also risk the “sin of omission”, in leaving the world without doing your best to make it better for those left behind. Opt out, and many more lives can be extended or improved due to more organs being available. Conversely, the decision to mark you as clinically dead lies in the hands of people who can make a profit from that decision. While money probably wouldn’t be a primary motive, it might help make that decision easier.

    On the whole, I’d rather see us go to an opt out structure for organ donation. You still get to decide, but it eliminates reasons 1 and 2 (procrastination and denial) as factors in not donating.

  127. 127
    blf

    Sorry, did someone just suggest “The Government” buy the organs of a deceased individual from someone (the individual’s estate? family?)? Good fecking grief, that is a perfect way to (1) Shutdown almost all legal organ donations; and (2) Create a much larger organ black market. (I am also rather amused to see someone who is coming across like a libertarian suggesting “the government” be involved, but that is neither here-or-there, other than yet another example of the inconsistent fantasy-thinking those type engage in.)

    Buying organs does nothing to encourage people to opt-in, and quite possibly will prevent some people who would otherwise opt-in from opting-in. Either through a misplaced greed (“I’m not going to give this to you, you have to buy it”), or under compulsion from their (presumably greedy) families / beneficences.

    Possibly worse, it will delay organ harvesting. There is only a finite and small amount of time after death during which organs can be harvested (albeit, in some cases, this can be prolonged by various artificial means). Hence, a need to locate and negotiate with whoever slows down the process, very possibly to the point where the harvesting becomes un-viable. This problem is one of the reasons behind donor cards (and also why putting organ-donation instructions in wills is useless): Carry the card with you. It says “You may harvest my organs”. There is no need to frantically search-for and convince the family or whoever to Ok the harvesting / donation (it has been “pre-approved”).

    Needing to complete a for-money transaction would, in turn, quite possibly drive the creation of much larger black market in organs. As the already too-small supply of legally-obtained viable organs shrinks, the incentives for illegal organ harvesting clearly increases. There are people out there who will then supply that market.

    If you don’t want to donate your organs, then, under the “presumed consent” or “opt-out” model, it’s simple: Opt out. Carry a Not-A-Donor Card. This is so trivial that even a libertarian should be able to understand it. (Such things may even already exist for people who for medical reasons, at least, cannot donate, to save time / effort ?)

    But, like others, I must wonder Why the Feck someone wants their corpse to retain all the (decaying) organs? Doubly so if it is going to be burnt. (There are medical reasons for not donating / harvesting, but that is clearly not what is being talked about here.) You are dead. Your organs may help someone (even someone as odious as Dick Cheney or the person suggesting organs must be bought), you certainly don’t need them anymore, and your grieving family doesn’t need kept in the corpse.

  128. 128
    mykroft

    Hmm. Should have said “Opt in, and your default choice will be to keep your body intact.” Either way, you still have a voice in what happens to your body.

  129. 129
    blf

    Just to be clear, my@127 comments were not directed at mykroft@126′s very thoughtful discussion of the opt-in / opt-out issue, but at an earlier commentator who “corrected” my even earlier, almost throwaway, comment that opt-out (“presumed consent”) is “stealing” and organs should instead be purchased.

     ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━

    [I]f Dick [Cheney] were to save a litter of kittens from drowning some would automatically assume that he either was hungry or that he felt drowning was too kind for them.

    In the case of Dick Cheney, he’d repeatedly almost-drown them again and again until they told him what he wanted to hear.

    (This reply probably demonstrates yer point.)

  130. 130
    blf

    Arrgggghhhh!! …who “corrected” my earlier comment to read that opt-out is “stealing”…

  131. 131
    carlie

    Carry the card with you. It says “You may harvest my organs”. There is no need to frantically search-for and convince the family or whoever to Ok the harvesting / donation (it has been “pre-approved”).

    I thought that general practice was that they waited for family approval anyway, as the family are the alive ones who can complain and sue if they don’t like what the deceased decided. One of the states I lived in had a place on the donor card for a witness signature, and I used next-of-kin on that to try to mitigate that particular problem.

  132. 132
    johnbyfleet

    Dick Cheney – the reason god invented ad homs.

  133. 133
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    The johnbyfleet vs. Dick Cheney debate over the Iraq invasion

    =========
    Cheney: …and that’s why it was reasonable at the time to believe that Iraq posed an existential threat to the United States.

    johnbyfleet: I don’t care what your argument is, you are evil and we can’t possibly trust anything you say.

    Cheney: You can win this debate with those petty, fallacious tactics.

    johnbyfleet: says the man who thinks hearts and minds can be won by torture.
    =========

    I’m not saying johnbyfleet’s position is bad or wrong, I’m just finding myself amused at the image.

  134. 134
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    dammit – cheney would have said you **CAN’T** win using those petty, fallacious tactics.

    Though George W would be happy to let someone win with fellatious tactics.

  135. 135
    Erlend Meyer

    Don’t feel bad, I have an image of him behind a corner swallowing the kittens with that creepy smile on his face *shudder*

  136. 136
    blf
    Carry the card with you. It says “You may harvest my organs”. There is no need to frantically search-for and convince the family or whoever to Ok the harvesting / donation (it has been “pre-approved”).

    I thought that general practice was that they waited for family approval anyway, as the family are the alive ones who can complain and sue if they don’t like what the deceased decided.

    I believe you are correct in at least some, quite possibly most, jurisdictions. What I have don’t know is if it is either necessary or the reason(s?) why.

    My own attitude is it is NONE of the family’s business. Full. Stop. The organs of the deceased are not owned by the family just as the deceased her/himself was not owned. Those organs were used by the deceased in her/his life, not by the family. The family doesn’t need them in the corpse. The family can go and feck off, they have no valid reason whatsoever to object.

    You’ve reminded me there is a handwritten note on my card saying “NO further (family) approvals are necessary”. (Looking at it now I see that that note, and also my signature, are no longer very legible, the ink has smeared some and worn off in places…) That note may not have any legal status, and hopefully doesn’t invalidate the card.

    The family might have reasons, such as squeamishness or magic sky faerie myths, but those are not valid reasons, just emotional gibberish. Get over it.

    I suppose this comes across as a bit cold. Is it? Or is denying harvesting viable organs in direct contradiction of the expressed wishes of the wannabe-donor cold?

  137. 137
    demonhype

    Okay, that one guy is definitely a jerk libertarian, but there are good reasons to choose an “opt-in” rather than an “opt-out”, and that is because the family does matter. No, the organs aren’t “theirs”, but at the time the organs would be harvested you have people going through an intensely tragic situation and in some cases, forcibly harvesting the organs could be devastating to them.

    Let me give a personal example: I actually spoke to my family about becoming an organ donor, and my mom had a conniption–not because she felt my organs were “hers” or anything like that, but because the thought of them harvesting the organs while my heart was still beating caused her so much distress. She can’t get this idea out of her head that somehow, even if my brain is flatlined, that I’m still somehow conscious inside there and they would be effectively cutting me to pieces while I’m still alive. Yes, I know all the science behind this, I know it’s magical thinking, I know once the brain is dead keeping the heart beating doesn’t make the person “alive” nor does it mean that person can “feel” anything, I tried to explain it to her, but it didn’t matter. On top of losing her daughter, she would be tormented with the idea that she allowed her daughter to cut to pieces while still alive. It’s not rational, but let’s not pretend that people going through the nightmare of losing a loved one are always rational.

    So if there was an “opt-out” and there was any mix-up (and I rather suspect there would be a lot of mix-ups and “lost” cards–there’s no incentive to “lose” someone’s donor card but would be a lot of incentive to “lose” someone’s opt-out card), you could have someone like my mom going through absolute hell, not only experiencing the loss of a child which is every parent’s worst nightmare, but having to live with the idea that her child was paralyzed on an operating table and could feel herself being cut up for parts and that’s how her child died–paralyzed and in agony, being sliced to ribbons by strangers, and that Mommy wasn’t there to help her. Sure, they could sue, but what would be the difference? There’s no amount of money that could ever erase that level of mind-shattering grief. Even if you could take the organs back (and no, I’m not suggesting this at all, that would be terrible) it wouldn’t make a difference in how she believes her child really died. And it’s not like such a lawsuit would fly, since they could just say “sorry, didn’t see a card, so that makes your child our organ bag and they were legally allowed to do this”–which is what I believe would eventually happen, with an entire society telling this grieving mother to just “get over it”.

    You can understand that I couldn’t do that to my mother. She was almost in tears just thinking about it. Yes, she agreed with the concept of organ donation and wasn’t against other people doing it, but she couldn’t face doing that with her own kid. She just can’t get past that mental issue she has with it. So I talked to her about donating my body to science–medical research in particular. She didn’t like the idea, but she eventually went along with it as I pointed out that at least I’d be definitely dead, no beating heart, just tissue to use in experimentation that might help develop treatments to save lives–and she has always said too that once you’re dead you’re dead, and she’d prefer to be tossed on the curb in a plastic bag, so I asked what difference could it make between that and medical research? She even fought my dad, who is dead set against any of it and is dedicated to the whole cemetary-burial thing, and he backed down. As long as I’m dead when they start cutting me up, she can handle it. So if anything ever happens to me and I die, my body will go to science.

    So from that perspective, I’d say keep “opt-in” and try to raise awareness and encourage people to opt in when they can–and maybe consider donation to science if they can’t for any reason, and I mean any reason at all including the one I just gave. I do think that if I die, my mother’s feelings should be some kind of factor even if I’m dead and even if she doesn’t technically “own” my body, because if they “accidentally” went ahead and harvested me it would take an already devastating tragedy for my mother worse and potentially destroy her mentally. And I don’t want to even think about my mother having to live through such a nightmare on top of the nightmare of losing a child.

  138. 138
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    @demonhype So, exactly how many strangers lives would you sacrifice to protect your mommy’s feelings?

  139. 139
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    dysomnik,

    How many strangers’ lives get “sacrificed” because people were too lazy to fill in the donor card or to ask their doctor about it, thinking they were young and had enough time (that’s me – I keep putting it off, but I could get hit by a car tomorrow and my organs would be wasted) or they have silly beliefs of their own about needing full bodies in heaven or some other superstition?

    In demonype’s case, there is at least some actual benefit from not harvesting the organs – their mother’s peace of mind and not adding to her grief. I’d let people with reasons like that be and not mock them for worrying about their loved ones’ feelings.

    Yell at me to visit my doctor already and ask how organ donation is regulated in my country! That would make sense.

  140. 140
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Sorry for mangling your name, dysomniak.

  141. 141
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    That’s why there shouldn’t be any consent required to harvest organs.

  142. 142
    Inaji

    dysomniak:

    @demonhype So, exactly how many strangers lives would you sacrifice to protect your mommy’s feelings?

    That is completely out of line. This sort of shit comment is in no way helpful, it doesn’t lead to any sort of constructive conversation, so why bother?

    I understand Demonhype’s reasons for opting out. Most people would wish to spare their loved ones anguish. As Beatrice says, it’s better to get after people who have no problem donating, but for whatever reason have put it off. (For the record, I’m a donor.)

    As for your statement that no consent should be required, it might be nice if you could be bothered to provide a valid argument for that stance.

  143. 143
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    Why should people die to spare the feelings of selfish assholes?

  144. 144
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Why should people die to spare the feelings of selfish assholes?

    That isn’t a logical argument. Step back a bit, as you sound like a selfish uncaring asshole.

  145. 145
    blf

    That’s why there shouldn’t be any consent required to harvest organs.

    I actually tend to concur with this, but advocate the “presumed consent” (or “opt-out”) model instead only because it would seem to have a more realistic chance of being adopted. I could, of course, be mistaken.

    demonhype does raise the issue of a “lost” opt-out card, which I admit hadn’t really occurred to me. A similar issue exists for opt-in cards, albeit it is perhaps less likely an opt-in card will be “accidentally” lost ? I do not have a answer to that objection per se, albeit (but perhaps not world-wide) techniques like micro-chipping or databases would seem to help. Plus, of course, education.

    Discussing the issue with the family may help, but I concur it doesn’t always. Admittedly, I fall on the opposite side in that I’m more willing to “hurt” my family’s feelings, but acknowledge others are less willing to do so. My position is I’m dead, and they will Have To Get Over It. Whether or not my own corpse contains all of my organs seems secondary, tertiary in fact, since I myself am more concerned with how my corpse will be disposed of (I am opposed to both conventional / traditional burial and burning on environmental grounds, but have made no decision nor expressed any specific preference).

  146. 146
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    dysomniak

    The feelings of the deceased’s family quite obviously need to be taken into account. While such feelings aren’t “logical,” neither is grief itself. We aren’t Vulcans.

    I’d still favour an opt-out system, but I do recognise that it’s easy for hospital staff/whoever to “lose” a card. There’d need to be damn good controls set in place to make sure that doesn’t happen.

  147. 147
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    And what about the families of the people who will die without those organs? Do they get taken into account?

  148. 148
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    dysomniak #147

    And what about the families of the people who will die without those organs? Do they get taken into account?

    They don’t get taken into account under opt-in systems either. Sometimes there is no perfect solution.

  149. 149
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I would be ok with an opt-out system.

  150. 150
    The Mellow Monkey

    People are dying right this second because the money of those of us who are middle class or higher is being used to support us and provide the luxuries of modern existence instead of being donated to help them. Those of us who can afford to buy food beyond the minimal nutritional needs for life, who can afford to buy clothing beyond the minimal needs to cover bodies and keep jobs, who can afford to go on vacations and take aspirin and use flush toilets and do so are making choices that are not necessary for survival for the sake of our emotional needs and those of our loved ones.

    We make decisions for our own pleasure and comfort every day and these decisions mean that we are choosing not to donate money, time, and resources.

    It’s better to donate your organs than to let them go to waste, but this is hardly the only place where decisions are made that ultimately deny others life-saving measures all for the sake of emotional comfort. Far more people are dying because of resources going to support middle class people in industrialized nations than are dying because someone’s mom is squeamish about organ donation.

    The difference, of course, is that the people dying because someone here isn’t an organ donor are likely to be middle class citizens of industrialized nations themselves. Have you ever lived in a one room shack with six other people and no running water or heat? I have. It’s possible to do so, though it’s a huge blow to one’s emotional comfort. Are you going to reduce yourself to living at that level so you can give more to the needy, because fuck emotions? I sincerely doubt it.

    We make emotional decisions every day that mean other people are going to die. Yes, it’s better to be an organ donor than not, but if you think that not donating is the same as letting people die then don’t go thinking you don’t let people die for your emotional needs

    Demonhype has made a decision to spare a loved one’s feelings? I ain’t throwing any stones.

  151. 151
    Steven Brown: Man of Mediocrity

    We make decisions for our own pleasure and comfort every day and these decisions mean that we are choosing not to donate money, time, and resources.

    This.

    Also, assuming it’s an opt out system I’d have to question how many people would actually die due to people opting out. If you’ve got a large majority of the population signed up then it’s unlikely there will be that many people dying due to lack of organs. This might also deal with the whole ‘lost card’ thing as well.

    And lastly, assuming an opt out system, it seems likely that it will become the norm after a relatively short amount of time so you should end up with a decreasing number of people opting out for reasons like Demonhype.
    (hoping my blockquote isn’t a fail)

  152. 152
    Steven Brown: Man of Mediocrity

    Oop. But it was.

  153. 153
    numerobis

    What I find most shocking about this news is that Dick Cheney is still biologically alive. He was a controversial VP choice back in 2000 even amongst conservatives, because he was assumed to be near death.

  154. 154
    erik333

    @148 Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    I think dysomniak is suggesting that organs should be harvested no matter what you or your family thinks.

  155. 155
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    erik333 #154

    I know they are. And I disagreed.

  156. 156
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I think dysomniak is suggesting that organs should be harvested no matter what you or your family thinks.

    Yes, Xe is. But is that really that good of a policy, if it causes bad feelings and hatred on the part of donor families toward that policy? The US doesn’t like the concept of mandatory. I liked it when all I had to do was to check a box on the back of my drivers license.

  157. 157
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    I’m not talking about what’s most practical, I’m talking about what’s right. I agree with blf that presumed consent is a far more realistic model for the near future. That still doesn’t change the fact that there is no rational reason not to donate. If we accept superstition based emotional harm as reason not to do something then the door is open to all kinds of bullshit. Stay in the closet until grandma dies! Keep going to church to keep dad happy! Where does it end?

    I guess I’m just a cold hearted utilitarian, but I’ve yet to see any argument why the relatives of the deceased should get more consideration than the relatives of those who would be saved by a donation.

  158. 158
    Amphiox

    dysnomiak, this question is really one about individual informed consent. The family are only proxy decision makers. It is actually about the individual, and individual’s right to bodily autonomy, their right to choose what they wish to happen to their own body after death.

    It is simply an extension of the normal process of informed consent. When the individual is not capable of giving such consent, the next of kin is the first-line alternate decision-maker, unless otherwise previously determined. The families involved, when making this decision, should not be thinking about their emotional preferences, but what the deceased would have wanted, because at root they are making the decision on the deceased’s behalf.

    And this is why presumed consent is not an ethically viable position, just as it is not viable for any other question of bodily autonomy when an active invasive intervention, which is what organ harvesting is, is at question. The default must always remain on the side of not intervening. Because presumed consent is just a less-distasteful way of saying “mild coercion”. And no coercion of any level should be acceptable in decisions as personal and intimate as these.

    Individuals should be encouraged to make their wishes explicit, and, importantly, to make sure their next-of-kin already knows what their desires in this regard are, so that in the eventually, they explicitly know what you want and can make that decision on your behalf. It can even go as far as designating a different proxy-decision maker for that decision. This should be part and parcel of the general end-of-life-care discussions everyone should have with their loved ones.

    But all that should be voluntary. We should seek to educate and persuade, not coerce by dictat, which, again, is what presumed consent really boils down to.

  159. 159
    chigau (違う)

    dysomniak
    Is your vision national or International?

  160. 160
    Amphiox

    This is particularly true when you consider that, for practical purposes, the decision to proceed with organ donation must be made while the individual is still alive. The person is dying, but not yet dead. They are progressing to irreversible brain death, but they are not yet there, and the decision is usually made as part of a larger set of decisions with respect to end-of-life care and the withdrawal of life-extending intervention.

    So we are talking about a decision pertaining to a complex series of irreversible medical interventions which culminate in the harvesting of organs after death, but which begin with a series of actions (such as cessations of attempts to medically prolong life and so forth) that are initiated on the person while still alive, and it is an irreversible chain whose links cannot be divorced from one another. You are essentially initiating a sequence of invasive medical intervention while the patient is still alive that will enable that person to die in a manner that preserves the organs in a state suitable for transplantation.

    Thus, when one talks about “presumed consent” in these situations, we are talking about presumed consent for active invasive medical interventions on people who are alive, which amounts to saying it is ok to perform invasive medical procedures on these living people without giving them or their surrogate decision-makers the right to actively consent to it.

    And that is simply not an acceptable state of affairs.

  161. 161
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    dysnomiak, this question is really one about individual informed consent. The family are only proxy decision makers. It is actually about the individual, and individual’s right to bodily autonomy, their right to choose what they wish to happen to their own body after death. Blah blah blah

    Why does “individual’” consent matter when the individual no longer exists?

  162. 162
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    @chigau I’m not sure I understand the question, but I certainly don’t think that basic morality has anything to do with what country someone lives in.

  163. 163
    carlie

    I was right on dysomniak’s side until Mellow Monkey at 150, and then, well… shit. Yeah. Every decision that doesn’t pour all of my excess resources into clean water, housing, health care, etc. for those less fortunate is a decision that is killing other people by neglect. When you sum up one’s whole life with that math, the final organ donation is just a drop in the kicked bucket.

  164. 164
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    Oh and as far as general consumption goes, my annual income is about $9k (including food stamps), and I still manage to donate a sawbuck or so each month to help people I will never meet so spare me the middle class whining.

  165. 165
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I’m talking about what’s right.

    No, you are requiring what you think is right. But that does not follow from present morality. Your OPINION does not effect whether or not I sign up for organ donation. That decision is mine, not yours, not the state. There is nothing the state can hang “implied consent” on, since dying isn’t a privilege licensed by the state.

  166. 166
    chigau (違う)

    dysomniak
    re: international
    If someone in (country) has an extra (dead) baby, with kidneys, do they have a right to decide where the kidneys go?

  167. 167
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    Chigau: I think that decision should be made by impartial third parties based on probability of succesful transplant, life expectancy, etc. I don’t see why geography should come into play unless the transport time is an issue.

  168. 168
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    [opt-in vs opt-out]

    There are more than enough case studies to answer the question as to which is the better way to go about such things as opting for organ donation (or health insurance, or retirement plans, etc). “Choice architecture” has a radical effect on the outcome of such elective options. People tend to do nothing. They stick to the default. And the default is a designed choice. If a health system is in need of donors, it should seek to have people opted in to organ donation as a default condition, with the clear option to opt out if need be.

    A directive about organ donation in case of accidental death is noted on an individual’s driver license in many countries. The formulation of that directive is another case in which one frame is clearly superior to the other. Few people would argue that the decision of whether or not to donate one’s organs is unimportant, but there is strong evidence that most people make their choice thoughtlessly. The evidence comes from a comparison of the rate of organ donation in European ountries, which reveals startling differences between neighboring and culturally similar countries. An article published in 2003 noted that the rate of organ donation was close to 100% in Austria but only 12% in Germany, 86% in Sweden but only 4% in Denmark.

    These enormous differences are a framing effect, which is caused by the format of the critical question. The high-donation countries have an opt out form, where individuals who wish not to donate must check an appropriate box. Unless they take this simple action, they are considered willing donors. The low-contribution countries have an opt-in form: you must check a box to become a donor. That is all. The best single predictor of whether or not people will donate their organs is the designation of the default option that will be adopted without having to check a box. – Kahneman

  169. 169
    chigau (違う)

    dysomniak
    I think that your “impartial third parties” might be unicorns.

  170. 170
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    Fine “as impartial as possible.” I didn’t realize I had to acknowledge the fact that we live in an imperfect universe with every statement.

  171. 171
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ dysomniak

    Why does “individual’” consent matter when the individual no longer exists?

    Because one owns one’s body. How you dispose of it – even after death – is subject to whatever directives to this effect, that you make while still alive. Your estate does not simply evaporate when you die. Neither do your rights. The estate of a deceased person remains a legal entity.

    My suggestion is that this should be a conscious (“opt-out”) decision, in the absence of which, your body will be disposed of in a respectful manner that creates the most amount of public good.

  172. 172
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    Why? None of this makes any fucking sense. How can a dead person – a nonexistent person – “own” anything?

  173. 173
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    To expect people to always act with emotionless logic is to expect them not to be human. If you’re not factoring the existence of very real, very human, emotions into your thinking, then you are denying people’s humanity: treating them as nothing but meat robots.

  174. 174
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    Putting hurt feelings above lives is monstrous by any measure.

  175. 175
    anteprepro

    To expect people to always act with emotionless logic is to expect them not to be human. If you’re not factoring the existence of very real, very human, emotions into your thinking, then you are denying people’s humanity: treating them as nothing but meat robots.

    But in fairness, pointing out where emotion or even borderline superstition is negatively influencing rationality is important. Pointing where that lack of rationality is resulting in unnecessary loss of life, based on petty or even selfish rationale, is important. I guess the real question is: how much is too much? How much reliance on emotional appeal and tradition is too much? How much reliance on logic and reason is too much? How many lives lost due to irrational decisions is too much? How much “irrational” woe, disgust, and misery in the name of utilitarianism is too much?

    I honestly have very mixed feelings on the subject. The death of a loved one is serious and even if the family has absolutely ridiculous reasons for not wanting the body of that loved one treated in a certain way, you are only going to exacerbate the feelings they are having in such a tragedy by dismissing those reasons. Just because their motives are illogical does not make the feelings associated with those motives any less real. And yet the fact that lives are lost due to this is still galling.

    I do think that opt-out would be a bit of an improvement, but ultimately we need a more pragmatic and deep-thinking, less squeamish and superstitious culture. Which would fix so many other things, and would probably be necessary politically in order to adopt an opt-out system anyway. So, I guess back to the Overton Window…

  176. 176
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    Why? None of this makes any fucking sense. How can a dead person – a nonexistent person – “own” anything?

    When you die, all your possessions devolve to your estate. It comes into being whether or not you have a will in place.

    You can see that, although your consciousness has ceased to be, your possessions remain. This includes your body. What happens to such real, physical (though not only) artifacts is a matter having legal consequences. Essentially the estate will be transferred to other legal entities (generally as set out in a will). Even though you are dead, you will have control of events, post-death, through instructions with regard to your estate.

    Perhaps you find it easier to understand wrt life insurance policies? You own the policy, but the pay-out only kicks in after you die. You explicitly state how the monies shall be distributed after your death. The insurance company honours your agreement even though you – the stone dead policy holder – have ceased to be. They can do this, because they have a legal entity – your estate – to whom the agreement remains binding. (In legal terms, you only get to die once your estate is fully wrapped up.)

  177. 177
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    dysomniak #174

    Putting hurt feelings above lives is monstrous by any measure.

    You’ll be putting aside your distaste at having no internet access, and donating the money you currently pay your ISP to charity instead, then?

    To recap: I have no problem with an opt-out system, provided safeguards against abuse are put in place. I have huge problems with the mandatory-donation system you’re advocating. As I said upthread, feelings people have regarding death may not be logical, but they are human.

  178. 178
    anteprepro

    Putting hurt feelings above lives is monstrous by any measure.

    Fuckin’ empathy, how does it work?

    Casually restricting freedoms and forcing people to do things against their will, even when you know it causes incredible distress, simply due to the possibility of it saving a few lives, is not exactly pure and noble, either.

    This isn’t a black and white issue. This isn’t cut and dry. The people who don’t agree aren’t babbling idiots or aspiring neonazis. Don’t play this like you are objectively and obviously Right, or you will wind up looking like a fucking jackass.

  179. 179
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    I obviously need to go back to lurking. This place just makes me more misanthropic than I already am.

  180. 180
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    anteprepro #175

    So, I guess back to the Overton Window…

    Yeah. And I think the problem, as Steven Brown says @151, and theophontes’ quote @168 seems to confirm, the number of objections to donation seems to drop as the opt-out system makes it more of a norm.

  181. 181
    David Marjanović

    Just for the record, I’m with comment 113.

    That boggles the mind. I would always be wondering “Who were you? Who and what did you love and loved you in return?” It’s how I feel every time I see an old old photograph, or pass by a cemetery. I quite literally cannot fathom how someone can’t feel that way.

    …Then fasten your seatbelt.

    1) There are so many people! If I tried to wonder about a tenth of the people I see daily, whether in meatspace or on photos or otherwise, I’d be occupied the whole 24 hours! That can’t be what you mean, so what do you mean?
    2) What does it even mean to wonder when there isn’t any way of trying to find out – even just by a thought experiment that narrows the number of viable hypotheses down to, say, ten –? That’s the part I quite literally cannot fathom. With nothing to hold on to, nothing to orient itself, my imagination would get agoraphobia!
    3) What does “who were you” mean? What do you mean by “who”? Perhaps “what kind of person”? If so, by what kind of classification? Or do you mean boring details like a name?
    4) “Who and what did you love and loved you in return?” A bunch of people I don’t know, a bunch of people I have no idea of and therefore can hardly relate to. For me, this fact completely answers the question.

    However, if comment 16 is right and Dick “Dick” Cheney is writing a book on organ transplants right now, I don’t understand why he isn’t interested in his donor and their family.

    if you don’t even in your own brain give symbolic thanks

    …What would that help anyone? Isn’t it like prayer? Like giving thanks to a god who can’t hear you either?

    What happens during The Resurrection Of The Dead® if your bits are all scattered hither and yon?

    Sufficiently conservative versions of Judaism take this question dreadfully seriously.

    It’s the principle of the thing. My organs are mine. Not yours. No one else has a right to them – even after I die. The government can keep their filthy hands off of me, kthanx.

    …What part of being dead don’t you understand? And, you know, it’s really fascinating that you interpret The Government® into this.

    If organ donation is so important, then the government can get off their wallet and pay my estate for my organs. You need a lung transplant? Buy one.

    The sense of entitlement that some of you people have is ridiculous.

    You’re just plain evil…

    …and hilarious.

  182. 182
    anteprepro

    And I think the problem, as Steven Brown says @151, and theophontes’ quote @168 seems to confirm, the number of objections to donation seems to drop as the opt-out system makes it more of a norm.

    Reassuring and yet a bit of a catch-22.

  183. 183
    David Marjanović

    Oh. The <q> tag stops working after one paragraph.

    Because one owns one’s body.

    Well, no. One is one’s body.

  184. 184
    Inaji

    Theophontes:

    Because one owns one’s body.

    No. I don’t own my body. I am my body, and I’ll thank everyone to keep their hands off of it, and noses out of any and all decisions I make in regard to myself.

    I’d be fully in favour of an opt-out system, however, bodily autonomy does not stop when someone else thinks it should. What I do or don’t do with myself is my business.

  185. 185
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I’d suggest dysomniak reads Amphiox’s comment 160.

  186. 186
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ David Marjanović

    Well, no. One is one’s body.

    And one can be owned (think slavery). And your estate is far more than your body. The legal recognition will vary. (And the de-facto conditions will vary too.) Opting in or out will come down to a legal position, not a reflection that we just “are” our bodies.


    Just as an aside: Although Kim Il-sung is dead, he is still the head of state of North Korea. He might have been turned to wormdroppings by now (not for want of trying to preserve the corpse), and yet he still holds this position. One does not even need a body to exist in a legal sense.


    @ Daz

    For more details, refer to Kahneman: “Thinking Fast and Slow

  187. 187
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ Caine

    I’ll thank everyone to keep their hands off of it, and noses out of any and all decisions I make in regard to myself.

    This would be a very important part of any solution. Stronger even: one need give no reason as to why one would like to opt out.

    What has generally tended to happen is that people do not regard the issue as particularly important. Opt-in then gives a legal basis for organ donation without curtailing anyone’s rights should they not be happy with the status quo. (The status would be reflected in one’s drivers license which must be carried at all time when driving anyhow. I do not have the figures, but would presume such would be the greatest source of donors.)

    @ anteprepro

    Reassuring and yet a bit of a catch-22.

    These are real world problems that have found real world solutions (at least in Austria and Sweden). The catch-22 is a result of magical thinking. If socialised medicine (Hell, even the metric system!) is anything to go by, this could indeed a very profound problem in the US.

  188. 188
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    Lonely “be” seeks loving home in #187.

  189. 189
    Steven Brown: Man of Mediocrity

    Gah. I’ve tried several times to write a comment on the whole issue around consent and I’ve realized I don’t know what I think. On the one hand I agree with dysomniak on one level but on another I am firmly with Caine when it comes to bodily autonomy.

    Complex issues? Who knew.

  190. 190
    kevinalexander

    I guess I’m just a cold hearted utilitarian, but I’ve yet to see any argument why the relatives of the deceased should get more consideration than the relatives of those who would be saved by a donation.

    This.
    So long as there are real living human beings who are dying for lack of donated organs then not donating them for whatever reason is killing them.
    The idea that a sack of meat can own itself is patently absurd and the idea that someone should die to spare someone else’s feelings is to take narcissism to to its highest possible level.

  191. 191
    kevinalexander

    Also, if god wanted your body intact then you could explain why he invented worms.

  192. 192
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    So long as there are real living human beings who are dying for lack of donated organs then not donating them for whatever reason is killing them.

    Not receiving a donated organ isn’t killing them. They would die anyway. What it does is give them extra life. And nobody has to do that.

  193. 193
    Amphiox

    I don’t see why geography should come into play unless the transport time is an issue.

    When it comes to organ transplant, transport time is always an issue, and will be until we develop a way to halt the degeneration of harvested organs indefinitely (as opposed to current and all foreseeable future methods which only slow that deterioration down.)

    Why does “individual’” consent matter when the individual no longer exists?

    As I explained in #160 (which incidentally was the post just one before yours), these decisions are invariably made at a time when the individual most definitely still exists. It is not a case of BOOM! You’re dead. Now you’re a corpse with organs in perfect condition for transplant. Now we must decide whether or not to harvest them.

    It is a case of you’re dying and your chances of meaningful survival are slim (not zero, never zero, because medical science is not that precise, and that too plays a critical role, for when your family makes that decision to donate organs on your behalf, they are also making the decision to give up all future hope, however slim, that you will survive), and now your surrogate decision makers are faced with a decision regarding options that pertain to how you will die and what kind of care you will receive as you die, one of which aims to preserve your organs in a state suitable for harvest and transplantation, while others do not, and the ancillary implications for YOU, the STILL LIVING HUMAN BEING, are potentially different during that process of dying.

  194. 194
    Amphiox

    The idea that a sack of meat can own itself is patently absurd

    All humans, living or dead, are sacks of meat.

    And again, these are decisions made on behalf of PEOPLE who are STILL ALIVE. Dying, perhaps, but not dead. HUMAN BEINGS, not corpses.

  195. 195
    Amphiox

    And finally, we do not yet know if the problem of organ availability even NEEDS a solution as drastic and as coercive as “presumed” consent. We do not yet know if a robust system of public education for the obtaining of fully voluntary consent, and improvements in the way in which families or other surrogate decision makers are approached to obtain that consent (and many studies have already shown that this makes a BIG difference) are sufficient to solve the problem.

    And you cannot ethically or morally justify A without first providing me with solid evidence that B either does not, or cannot, work.

    It is not dissimilar to the question of whether or not to universally vaccinate all children without their or their parents’ active consent on the assumption of “presumed” consent, or to seek to achieve the goal of universal vaccination through voluntary methods.

  196. 196
    carlie

    Some of this argumentation is getting uncomfortably close to “but the embryo needs your body to survive so you have to keep it in there whether you like it or not”.

  197. 197
    Amphiox

    Perhaps, as with everything, people should take a step back and consider some facts about the process as it is in reality, before jumping to blanket statements like “absurd” or “narcissitic”, or casting veiled aspersions at the human decency of those disagreeing with you.

    If you die from your heart stopping, you are not an organ donor candidate (you may still be a tissue donor candidate for some tissues, like skin and corneas, though). Loss of perfusion to the organs leads to immediate irreversible damage that precludes their use in transplantation.*

    If you die from any slow, degenerative processes that lead to organ failure in their end stages, then you are not an organ donor candidate.

    You are only an organ donor candidate if you die from rapid irreversible brainstem damage (ie brain death).

    BUT, the brainstem controls breathing and heart rate (though the heart has some potential to spontaneously beat on its own), so at the moment of brainstem death, heartbeat and breathing stops, and the organs become unusable. So if you die from IMMEDIATE brainstem death, for example, instantly at the scene of an accident, you are not an organ donor, since by the time your corpse gets to the hospital your organs are no longer usable.

    And if you die by SLOW brainstem deterioration (and by slow we mean anything longer than a day or so), your process of death involves a slow and gradual loss of breathing and heart rate control, leading to global hypoperfusion of the organs, and you will not be an organ donor.

    Thus, to be an organ donor, you have to be dying of a rapid, but not instantaneous, process of brainstem destruction, such that you arrive at the hospital with your heart still beating, your lungs still working, and all your organs still being perfused. Furthermore, this perfusion of your organs must continue beyond the moment of brainstem death, which normally is accompanied by the cessation of breathing and heartbeat.

    In other words, to be an organ donor candidate, you have to be placed on life support, before death, such that at the moment of brainstem death, perfusion of the organs by oxygenated blood continues.

    So, to be an organ donor, medical intervention, invasive medical intervention like mechanical ventilation and intubation, and the intravenous infusion of powerful medications that maintain heart rate and blood pressure, must be initiated while you are still alive to ensure that when you die, your organs will be preserved in a state suitable for transplantation. It means an ICU admission (for which your family will have to pay, if you live in a jurisdiction without universal health coverage and you do not have insurance that covers it).

    These decisions must all be made while you are still alive, still human, still deserving of all the rights to bodily autonomy and informed consent as any other human being. And because some of these interventions do not benefit you individually in any way – they do not ease any pain or suffering you might be experiencing in the process of dying, they do not lengthen your survival in any way, etc, even the process of requesting them, or obtaining consent for them, from your surrogate decision makers, constitute a potential conflict of interest** for the healthcare professionals caring for you. (And many physicians do in fact refuse to obtain consent for organ donation precisely for this reason, and large centers with lots of experience in organ donation have a separate team, independent of the main medical team, that deals with obtaining consent for organ donation).

    It is not as simple as “the dead don’t need their organs anymore.”

    *there is some work right now on whether or not some organs (mainly kidneys) could still potentially be usable even if harvested after the cessation of perfusion.

    **for example, there are circumstances where treatment options that might benefit you as an individual with respect to either length of survival or comfort that can potentially result in you no longer being as suitable a candidate for organ donation, or preclude you altogether.

  198. 198
    carlie

    And can even be put together: if I find out I’m pregnant, but on the way to the clinic to have an abortion I get hit by a car and end up brain dead, who can decide that I have to be kept artificially alive until the pregnancy is over and a baby is born?

  199. 199
    Amphiox

    Some of this argumentation is getting uncomfortably close to “but the embryo needs your body to survive so you have to keep it in there whether you like it or not”.

    Exactly. Simply replace the last half of the statement “and therefore it is ok to violate your bodily autonomy for the 9 months while you are pregnant” with “for the last 6 hours of your life before you die.”

  200. 200
    carlie

    Crosspost, so yeah, what Amphiox just said.

  201. 201
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ Amphiox

    Speaking only for myself:

    Every day, pretty much, and at least once, I lose consciousness and become totally unaware of myself. That is, I fall asleep ( of which at least a part is dreamless).

    If I were to be involved in a horrific accident, for which there was no reasonable prospect of recovery;

    If there were a way to be euthanised, given I find myself in such a condition, and in such a way that it would be like falling asleep;

    I would then accept being killed to provide my organs so that another might live. That is to say, I would accept my own death as an acceptable part of a process whereby my organs, which (at least in terms of current medical practice) are useless to me ( I would die anyway), could be of use in the saving of another persons life.

    I would accept that a person such as Cheney (whom I find quite abhorrent) may well be the recipient.

  202. 202
    Inaji

    Carlie @ 196:

    Some of this argumentation is getting uncomfortably close to “but the embryo needs your body to survive so you have to keep it in there whether you like it or not”.

    I was honestly surprised people weren’t seeing this some time ago. It’s quite disconcerting to see people who would normally argue, quite ferociously, for full bodily autonomy, be perfectly happy to toss autonomy out the window in this case.

  203. 203
    Raging Bee

    This guy doesn’t even care enough to TRY to sound sympathetic. And that, I suspect, is why a lot of scared, small-minded people LIKE him. In their eyes, meanness and callousness are strength, and not showing any sense of shame is courage in the face of spineless weak leeches who want to sap our strength and paralyze us in the face of danger.

  204. 204
    Steven Brown: Man of Mediocrity

    @ Amphiox:

    Thanks for that explanation of the process. I was not aware of how it all worked so having it laid out like that puts it so far past the bodily autonomy line that I find myself with no internal conflict at all. Previously I was struggling with the idea that we were not dealing with the body of a living person so autonomy couldn’t exist but I still felt like it should come first. Now you’ve made it clear that it is in every case an issue of someones right to bodily autonomy there is no longer any argument in my head. Which is nice because I wasn’t making any progress with it before.

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