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Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

From the Britain’s The Daily Mail comes another story of a “miraculous” recovery by a patient who was declared brain dead by the attending doctors.  Of course, organ donation has a starring role.

They were told there was no chance of their son surviving after he suffered devastating injuries in a car crash.

But Steven Thorpe’s parents refused to give up hope – despite four specialists declaring that the 17-year-old was brain dead.

Convinced they saw a ‘flicker’ of life as Steven lay in a coma, John and Janet Thorpe rejected advice to switch off his life support machine.

They begged for another opinion – and it was a decision that saved him.

A neurosurgeon found faint signs of brain activity

And of course, the link to organ donation:

‘The doctors were telling my parents that they wanted to take me off the life support. The words they used to my parents were “You need to start thinking about organ donations”.

Yes, of course the doctors wanted the family to be thinking about organ donation.  I guarantee someone of the staff at the hospital started their own thinking about organ donation within minutes of the EMT arrival of a brain injured patient.

This could be a photo of hospital organ donation administrators...or a pair of vultures.

Steven is now 21, a graduate and clerical trainee.  Despite losing use of his left arm and “extensive reconstructive surgery to his face” including having both his nose and eye socket rebuilt, Steven says he considers his survival as “a full recovery” and is very grateful that his parents were adamant to bring in another opinion.

The hospital issued a statement to The Daily Mail,

‘The injury to Steven’s brain was extremely critical and several CT scans of the head showed almost irreversible damage.

‘It is extremely rare that a patient with such extensive trauma to the brain should survive. We were delighted to see Steven recover.’

The article does not state whether the hospital told Steven’s parents, as they urged them to donate ‘dead’ Steven’s organs, that he had “almost irreversible damage.”  When a grieving family is told to start thinking about organ donation, they think their loved one is dead, not almost dead.  But time and again, stories like this show us that to an unfortunate number of medical workers, “almost dead” = “dead dead”.

Dr. Piper, the General Practitioner whose involvement saved Steven’s life notes, “I am astonished with the outcome but one worries that this may happen more often than we know.”

I’m worried too.

h/t to Lifesitenews whose own article on this story includes several references to similar recent “miraculous” recoveries.  Furthermore, they have a dozen similar articles linked at the bottom of their post.  Educate yourself and check it out.

 

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That title is actually be a bit misleading, as it may suggest that I have all the answers for the Church’s stand on organ donation.  I actually do not.  And I cannot speak on behalf of the Church.  But I do have some thoughts and suggestions that might give my faithful brethren and readers a jumping off point for further research.  And this is important because many Catholics have no idea that there is anything possibly wrong with the current state of organ donation.

But there is.

First, let me quote some pieces from a recent editorial commentary in the Wall Street Journal.  The commentary is written by Dick Teresi, author of The Undead: Organ Harvesting, the Ice-Water Test, Beating Heart Cadavers–How Medicine Is Blurring the Line Between Life and Death.  As he says,

Becoming an organ donor seems like a win-win situation. Some 3.3 people on the transplant waiting list will have their lives extended by your gift (3.3 is the average yield of solid organs per donor). You’re a hero, and at no real cost, apparently.

But what are you giving up when you check the donor box on your license? Your organs, of course—but much more. You’re also giving up your right to informed consent. Doctors don’t have to tell you or your relatives what they will do to your body during an organ harvest operation because you’ll be dead, with no legal rights.

You might ask yourself why you might care that you or your loved one no longer have legal rights, so Mr. Teresi explains why.  You don’t get any say in the tests used to determine your “death.”  As long time readers know, the tests for brain death are sketchy, non-uniform, individualistic and subjective.  He writes:

The exam for brain death is simple. A doctor splashes ice water in your ears (to look for shivering in the eyes), pokes your eyes with a cotton swab and checks for any gag reflex, among other rudimentary tests. It takes less time than a standard eye exam. Finally, in what’s called the apnea test, the ventilator is disconnected to see if you can breathe unassisted. If not, you are brain dead.

Hmmm, by this definition of brain death, I have personally as a lifeguard brought two people back from death.  Because that is what CPR is: breathing for individuals who aren’t breathing for themselves.  Mr. Teresi points out that even though such a person is now considered by organ harvesters as brain dead, they actually have much more in common with the living than the dead.  Their organs still function, they still heal, control their internal temperatures, etc.  And that is not all.

You might also be emitting brainwaves. Most people are surprised [note: shocked and disbelieving is more accurate] to learn that many people who are declared brain dead are never actually tested for higher-brain activity. The 1968 Harvard committee recommended that doctors use electroencephalography (EEG) to make sure the patient has flat brain waves. Today’s tests concentrate on the stalk-like brain stem, in charge of basics such as breathing, sleeping and waking. The EEG would alert doctors if the cortex, the thinking part of your brain, is still active.

But various researchers decided that this test was unnecessary, so it was eliminated from the mandatory criteria in 1971. They reasoned that, if the brain stem is dead, the higher centers of the brain are also probably dead.

[emphasis mine]

My thought here is that the harvesting team does not actually want to know if the donor is dead yet.  Nearly dead is close enough for them.

John Shea, M.D. has written for Catholic Insight:

Since 1968, vital organs, necessary for life, have been removed from patients for transplantation. Since then, this has been morally justified by the claim that the donor is “brain dead” or has suffered “cardiac death.” Brain death is defined as complete and irreversible loss of all brain function and cardiac death is declared two to five minutes after cessation of the heartbeat.

The moral problem is that the criteria used to declare that brain death or cardiac death has occurred are arbitrary, and open to continuing serious world-wide debate. They do not necessarily provide moral certainty that real death has occurred, and that such organ retrieval does not actually cause the death of the donor.

Many medical ethicists are concerned with this lack of certainty of an actual death in brain death cases.  Are you comfortable placing the end of your life decision in the hands of these medical professionals?  Is there reason to doubt their commitment to your best interests?  Actually, yes, yes there is.

Organ transplantation—from procurement of organs to transplant to the first year of postoperative care—is a $20 billion per year business. Recipients of single-organ transplants—heart, intestine, kidney, liver, single and double lung and pancreas—are charged an average $470,000, ranging from $288,000 for a kidney transplant to $1.2 million for an intestine transplant, according to consulting firm Milliman. Neither donors nor their families can be paid for organs.

Mr. Teresi does not mention the big gifts which the donor hospital receives in all this exchanging of organs.  But they do.  Providing organs is a very lucrative business for hospitals.

In his WSJ article, Mr. Teresi informs us that the current criteria on brain death were set by a Harvard Medical School committee in 1968.  In 1981, all 50 states adopted the Harvard brain death as a definition of death.  It is enlightening to read a bit from that important Harvard commission (quoting from).

Secular attempts to define death in this regard have not been all that successful.  Indeed, rather than use any sort of consistent biological or philosophical criteria, the concerns which seem to be driving definitions of death in the public sphere today are their relative expediency for procuring successful organ donation.  This trend started decades ago when the now famous Harvard brain death commission moved us toward a neurological (rather than cardio-pulmonary) criteria:

Our primary purpose is to define irreversible coma as a new criterion for death. There are two reasons why there is a need for a definition: (1) Improvements in resuscitative and supportive measures have led to increased efforts to save those who are desperately injured. Sometimes these efforts have only a partial success so that the result is an individual whose heart continues to beat but whose brain is irreversibly damaged. The burden is great on patients who suffer permanent loss of intellect, on their families, on the hospitals, and on those in need of hospital beds already occupied by these comatose patients. (2) Obsolete criteria for the definition of death can lead to controversy in obtaining organs for transplantation.

As Peter Singer, an atheist philosopher at Princeton who rejects brain death as a criterion for bodily death, notes this as a remarkable moment of honesty in bioethics:

[T]he Harvard committee does not even attempt to argue that there is a need for a new definition of death because hospitals have a lot of patients in their wards who are really dead, but are being kept attached to respirators because the law does not recognize them as dead.  Instead, with unusual frankness, the committee said that a new definition was needed because irreversibly comatose patients were a great burden, not only on themselves (why to be in an irreversible coma is a burden on the patient, the committee did not say), but also on their families, hospitals, and patients waiting for beds.           source

Catholic Moral Theology article drily states that “[t]oday we are still dealing with the incoherence of criteria for death driven by the need for organs.”  Indeed.

So where does this leave faithful Catholics, trying to live our pro-life mandate?  Pope Benedict has said

“The main criterion,” the Pope said, must be “respect for the life of the donor so that the removal of organs is allowed only in the presence of his actual death.”

The Pope is likely to have been referring to the L’Osservatore Romano article when he told the Transplant Conference, “Science, in recent years has made further progress in the determination of the death of a patient.” In the question of determination of death, the Pope cautioned, “there must not be the slightest suspicion of arbitrariness. Where certainty cannot be achieved, the principle of precaution must prevail.”

In the 1995 Encyclical Evangelium vitae (Gospel of Life), Pope John Paul commended organ donation as an unselfish gift of life, but he cautioned that the question of death must be answered by “moral certitude” in order for the gift to be morally legitimate.  The Pope said that organs may only be removed after death – “that is, from the body of someone who is certainly dead.”

“Certainly dead.”  The problem is that the medical profession which has a well-earned attitude for arrogance and expedience, is not at all interested in being certain of death.  Not all doctors, of course, but enough with plenty of individual latitude in declaring death (and then making it so) to make people of faith and intellect think twice.  And we should think twice.  I never gave this any thought, was never aware of the controversies in organ donation until this very topic affected me personally.  Until it took away someone I loved.  Since then, I have been educating myself and trying to educate others.  I’ve been collecting and sharing stories of supposedly “miraculous recoveries” by medically declared dead patients.  I have a half dozen such stories still to publish.

The National Catholic Bioethics Center states that a properly diagnosed neurological death can only be determined following an evaluation of the entire brain, including the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brain stem in order to determine the complete cessation of all organized neurological activity. Of course, it also calls me “irresponsible” but it goes on to make my point, which is “that the neurological criteria must be rigorously and consistently applied and a judgment made of total brain death before a person is declared dead” — but that unfortunately is just not happening with consistency and assurance.

Therefore, I am going to heed and recommend Mr. Teresi’s advice.  He ends his WSJ commentary by suggesting that prospective donors not sign away their rights, and thereby retain bargaining power.  “If you leave instructions with your next of kin, they can perhaps negotiate a better deal. Instead of just the usual icewater-in-the-ears, why not ask for a blood-flow study to make sure your cortex is truly out of commission?”

To that extent, I encourage my readers to avoid signing donor authorizations that ipso facto sign away legal rights for you and your loved ones.  Require the full tests suggested by the NCBC and do not allow a determination of death if the the cerebrum and cerebellum are not also evaluated.  Determinations by brain stem activity alone are inadequate.

A living will specifying the criteria you wish used to determine your death, the manner and way in which your body both before death and after must be treated and specifying clearly that you are a Catholic who wishes to be treated in accordance with the teachings of the Church are all recommended.  (There used to be a place for Catholics to purchase and download these materials, called Legal Lifeguard but something seems wrong with the site.)

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So…the research blog for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University has posted a blog entry on its research that purports to show that interest in Catholicism is dramatically down.   The author comes to this conclusion by virtue of CARA’s research which shows that Google searches for the word “Catholic” are down not only domestically, but internationally.  The headline, “Is Interest in Catholicism Falling Online?” sounds alarming and I’m sure it is meant to be.  It certainly rattled me when I saw it linked over at NewAdvent.  I can only conclude that our reaction is supposed to be

Oh, woe is us!  The sky is falling on our New Evangelization! 

to which I can only respond

Poppycock

You heard me.  The Henny Penny headline is only part of the problem I have with the article.  I looked over this “research” and no one should be drawing ANY conclusions from it…except to say that people aren’t looking up the word “Catholic” on Google.  Big deal. That hardly means a lack on interest in Catholic things on the internet.

I know this both intellectually and personally.  Intellectually, the gaps between this “research” and the author’s  “conclusion” are very wide, so wide that we can dismiss his conclusion.  In other words, I am saying that the data–while it does not negate the author’s conclusion — by no means answers the author’s question, posed in his sensationalized headline, “Is Interest in Catholicism falling online?”, a question which the author answers affirmatively.  The author, Mark Gray writes, “the data shown… indicates that people may be less likely to be looking for Catholic content now than in the past.”  Hmmm. 

In his assertions, Mr. Gray is guilty of several reasoning errors known as Fallacious Generalizations:

Overgeneralization / Sweeping generalization –  The author takes the research of Google and concludes that fewer people are using Google to look up the word “Catholic” therefore interest in Catholicism has waned.  However, even a person with a most rudimentary exposure to research techniques can immediately notice the limited nature of the underlying research.  Google, while the most popular search engine, is by no means the only search engine.  Furthermore, there are thousands and thousands of searches that can involve Catholic doctrine, theology, history, worship, prayer, culture, teachings, arts and news that do not use the word “Catholic”.  Examples?

  • “Pro-life resources”
  • “Pope in Croatia”
  • “Theology of the Body”
  • “Saints and martyrs”
  • “How to say the Rosary”
  • “What is the Assumption”
  • “Refute sola scriptura”
  • “counter Reformation”
  • “beatification of John Paul”

Argumentum a silentio “You do not Google, therefore you are not.”    It did not show up in the limited research, therefore, it must not be.

Fallacy of Division – “Since “Catholic” is a less popular search term today, the trend shows people are not interested in Catholic things.” (Substituting a part for a whole).  See examples listed above.

Finally, I can see absolutely from personal experience that folks out reading Catholic websites, blogs and resources are most likely NOT ‘googling’ them to get there and certainly not by typing in “Catholic” in the search bar.  I get almost no visitors using the term “Catholic”.  One of my top posts of all times is the one I did on the myth of unlimited Vatican wealth.  How do those folks find it?  by typing in

How wealthy is the Vatican?”

I kid you not.  I get 20 visitors a month from that search alone.   Seems people really, really want to know how wealthy the Vatican is and that search does not show up in the CARA data.   Nor does “how to pray the Rosary”, “Christian persecution”, and “little popes” all of which send me handfuls of visitors every month.  Searches on “beauty”, “late have I loved thee”, and “kneeling in church” also send me a significant amount of traffic.  I could go on, but you get my point.

I don’t Google “Catholic Vatican website”, do you?  I’d search Vatican website (on Yahoo! btw)– if I didn’t already know that the site is vatican.va.  If I want to know about a particular topic, I will most likely go straight to NewAdvent.org, USSCB.org, or Catholic Answers.  My browser knows to bring up First Things, The National Catholic Register, Zenit, and the Catholic News Agency.  I don’t ever Google those and I doubt you do.  That is why we have Favorites on our browsers, not to mention Feeds.

In other words, the use of the Internet is an ever-changing, dynamic thing and our society gets more sophisticated in its use all the time.  So fewer people are googling the “Catholic” word now than in years past.  That is a trend for Google to ponder, not necessarily one for Catholics in the new media to obsess over.   Plus heck, some of us think that Google is evilEvil like Disney

In conclusion, dear Reader, (and not a fallacious conclusion either)…however you got here to my webblog, I appreciate your taking the time to read this.  I hope you have taken a big breath and sighed a sigh of relief and remember:  the sky is not falling.  You can google it.

(on a side note, a big “Boo” to NewAdvent for posting the ad hominem research piece under the even more Henny Penny-ish title, “When you crunch the numbers, there’s no escaping it: Interest in Catholicism is falling online“.  Sheesh, people get a hold of yourselves.)

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Many babies died to get this picture.

 

***

And each one said to his neighbour: Come let us make brick, and bake them with fire. And they had brick instead of stones, and slime instead of mortar:  And they said: Come, let us make a city and a tower, the top whereof may reach to heaven; and let us make our name famous before we be scattered abroad into all lands.   Genesis 11: 3-4

 ***

“Life once conceived, must be protected with the utmost care; abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”  Gaudium et Spes, Second Vatican Council

 

IVF.  In vitro fertilization, also called artificial insemination.  The joining of an egg and sperm in a laboratory, creation of life in a test tube.  For some, it is a miracle.  They wonder at the majesty and brilliance of the medical profession, the advances man has made and exclaim what good man can do.  They forget, ignore, or willfully deny that man can do no good without God for God is the source of all good.  Our civilization is baking the bricks of our own technological Tower of Babel, and when we reach the top, when the medical community solves the riddle of life, we won’t need God anymore.  We’ll be like gods ourselves.

What a comforting thought. 

“After all,” we tell ourselves, “isn’t it God’s fault that there is poverty, want, ignorance, war, injustice, death and decay?  Isn’t it God who ignores our prayers and denies us what we desire, fails us in our wants, frustrates our right to have what we want when we want it?”  Well then, let’s not rely upon God.  His plan wasn’t very good and we can make a much better one.  Let us then make our own path.  Take the painful situation of infertility, of an absence of our own flesh and blood children.  Who is God to deny us our right to bear children?  I am entitled to have children, when and how I like, and it is not God placeto deny me, nor yours to judge me.  Like Lot’s daughters, we conspire, “Let us go into our doctors’ houses and lie with them so that we may have children.”

From UK‘s Daily Mail comes this priceless story of a 58 year old single woman who through IVF now has twins.  That’s her in the picture above, holding one of the children.  This story exemplifies all that is wrong with the western society’s brave new world of medical and technological advances.  Without moral grounding, you get this sort of thing.  To sum up the story, 58 year old Carole Hobson, a lawyer, decided that now that she was in her 50s, she wanted a child.  She admits never wanting one before.  Her boyfriend of eleven years felt differently.  So she ditched him and started her quest to get her some kids.  This involved an egg from India, sperm from Scandinavia, 5 rounds of IVF treatments, one abortion, £20,000, a team of National Health Service medical staff (paid for by British taxpayers), the birth of twins and the hiring of a fulltime nanny.   So single senior citizen gets her brand new kiddies with national healthcare, goes back to work and drops off the longed-for children with the college student who is going to raise them.  Sounds like a very happy ending, right?

Actually, interestingly, tellingly….no.

In one of those twists that reminds us who is God and who is not, mother Carole Hobson is overwhelmed and full of regret.  As the newsreporter writes–

Carole, sleep-deprived, pole-axed by the reality of caring for baby twins and anxious for their still fragile health, appears to illustrate perfectly the proverb: ‘Be careful what you wish for . . . you might just get it.’

But it’s early days yet and, to be fair to Carole, she looks far less frazzled than I’d expected, given the demands of twins. She seems to be  incredibly well and has a calm, loving commitment to her babies — but it’s hard to detect any sign of euphoria.

….

She was admitted to Medway Maritime Hospital as an emergency on December 17, suffering from pre-eclampsia and a winter respiratory virus. The decision to deliver the twins was made on Christmas Eve after Carole’s liver and kidneys started to fail.

‘Half an hour before the Caesarean, I was shown around the neo-natal unit where the twins would be taken after their birth and that’s when I sobbed my heart out, thinking: “What on earth have I done?” ’ says Carole.

‘I was crying for my babies and what they might have to go through to survive. That’s when the enormity of the situation hit me and I doubted whether I’d done the right thing.’

No, she didn’t do the right thing.  She did a very selfish thing and has brought those children into a life in which there is no father or mother, their legal mother may die before they even come of age and her plan is for nannies to raise them.  Those poor kids.  And I note that it is a funny time for her to wonder what her babies have to do to survive, given all that they had done to survive up to this point.  She had been pregnant with triplets but chose one to murder in the womb.  That’s called “a selective abortion” and is so frequent in IVF pregnancies that not having one or more abortions is rare.  So both of these twins had already survived one of her choices.   And these babies were born on her 5th round of IVF, meaning that literally 20-30 babies had already died prior to their arrival.  So dozens of dead babies preceded these tiny twins in life. 

What drives a person to such lengths?  Well, selfishness mostly.  It sounds to me as if Carole is greatly in need of love, a relationship with God and forgiveness, as her life decisions seem to be on a path of increasing destructiveness.

She described to me the extraordinary lengths she went to in order to achieve her goal, batting away any criticism of her quest for late, single motherhood with clear-headed logic and well-rehearsed argument.

She explained how it wasn’t until her late 40s and early 50s that — having lacked all maternal instinct in her 20s or 30s, while she forged her career — she came to bitterly regret her childlessness.

Her then partner of 11 years, a geologist, was not keen on the idea, so Carole decided to go ahead alone, effectively sacrificing their relationship on the altar of motherhood.

In pursuit of doctors who would help her, Carole travelled from Kent to the Ukraine, back to London, to Cyprus and finally to a fertility clinic in India — which treats women up to the age of 63 — where her fifth attempt at IVF proved successful.

‘I felt incomplete without a child,’ she said, explaining that she went to India because of shortage of egg donors elsewhere.

‘I want to seize every opportunity that medical science can offer me, as a woman. Some people might accuse me of being selfish or going against nature, but isn’t it going against nature to perform transplants or heart surgery? I’m no more selfish than any other woman who wants a family.’

Sin is like this.  We get embroiled in a few sins and before you know it, we have lost our relationship with God.  We may search to replace Him even.  I think that’s what happened here, with the helpful assistance of the Tower-building medical community.  Why didn’t someone say no?  Cause medical professionals are builders not moralists or ethicists.

So let’s review Catholic moral teaching:

Heterologous artificial fertilization violates the rights of the child; it deprives him of his filial relationship with his parental origins and can hinder the maturing of his personal identity. Furthermore, it offends the common vocation of the spouses who are called to fatherhood and motherhood: it objectively deprives conjugal fruitfulness of its unity and integrity; it brings about and manifests a rupture between genetic parenthood, gestational parenthood and responsibility for upbringing. Such damage to the personal relationships within the family has repercussions on civil society: what threatens the unity and stability of the family is a source of dissension, disorder and injustice in the whole of social life. These reasons lead to a negative moral judgment concerning heterologous artificial fertilization: consequently fertilization of a married woman with the sperm of a donor different from her husband and fertilization with the husband’s sperm of an ovum not coming from his wife are morally illicit. Furthermore, the artificial fertilization of a woman who is unmarried or a widow, whoever the donor may be, cannot be morally justified. (italics in original)

Why does the Church teach this?  Is it because she is out of touch?  Is it because she is run by a bunch of old guys who have no idea what desire feels like?  Is it because God hates us and wants us to be disappointed, frustrated and miserable?  No.  No. No.  It is because of love.  God will show us the path to life.

The Church’s Magisterium does not intervene on the basis of a particular competence in the area of the experimental sciences; but having taken account of the data of research and technology, it intends to put forward, by virtue of its evangelical mission and apostolic duty, the moral teaching corresponding to the dignity of the person and to his or her integral vocation. It intends to do so by expounding the criteria of moral judgment as regards the applications of scientific research and technology, especially in relation to human life and its beginnings. These criteria are the respect, defence and promotion of man, his “primary and fundamental right” to life, his dignity as a person who is endowed with a spiritual soul and with moral responsibility and who is called to beatific communion with God. The Church’s intervention in this field is inspired also by the Love which she owes to man, helping him to recognize and respect his rights and duties. This love draws from the fount of Christ’s love: as she contemplates the mystery of the Incarnate Word, the Church also comes to understand the “mystery of man”;  by proclaiming the Gospel of salvation, she reveals to man his dignity and invites him to discover fully the truth of his own being. Thus the Church once more puts forward the divine law in order to accomplish the work of truth and liberation. For it is out of goodness – in order to indicate the path of life – that God gives human beings his commandments and the grace to observe them: and it is likewise out of goodness – in order to help them persevere along the same path – that God always offers to everyone his forgiveness. Christ has compassion on our weaknesses: he is our Creator and Redeemer. May his spirit open men’s hearts to the gift of God’s peace and to an understanding of his precepts.  (footnotes removed) (emphasis mine)Introduction to INSTRUCTION ON RESPECT FOR HUMAN LIFE IN ITS ORIGIN AND ON THE DIGNITY OF PROCREATION REPLIES TO CERTAIN QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

Christ our Creator and Redeemer has compassion for us and God forgives.  I am praying that this mother who is realizing the repercussions of her monumental decision, will find in her disappointment, fear and difficulty that God loves her and her children and wants her to choose Him from now on.  This is a moment that could change this woman’s life.  We all have these moments and we know as believers that God takes the fruits of our selfish decisions and works His plan through it.

Read the full Daily Mail article here.

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.It’s not even “mostly dead.” 

From Seattle (via Houston) comes another story of a patient misdiagnosed as brain dead.  Unlike previous stories I’ve posted, this one has the organ harvesters as the heroes.

Karen Arbogast was a wife, mother and grandmother who volunteered as an EMT in the Tri-Cities area.On Tuesday, she was dead.

On Wednesday, she was alive.

Arbogast, 51, was involved in a three-vehicle crash early Tuesday evening at Highway 395 and Hildebrand Road in the Tri-Cities area.

The Washington State Patrol said a FedEx delivery truck struck a Toyota Camry after running a red light on Highway 395. The truck then slammed into the driver’s side of the Mercury Monterey van.

Arbogast was unconscious but breathing and taken to Kennewick General Hospital, said investigators.

“We couldn’t believe that this just happened,” said her daughter Candice Duncan, who rushed with other family to be by her mother’s side. “She’s always, always, thought of other people first.”

But relatives said doctors in Kennewick told them the crash had left her brain-dead, or at least, with no brain activity.

“[It was] sad to see Mom being in that kind of state,” said her son, Scott Magnuson.

Because Karen is registered as an organ donor, her husband, Carl, signed release forms. Doctors left her on life support so they could fly her to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for the organ harvesting procedure.

“My dad took off her wedding rings and all that stuff, and we all said goodbye,” said Duncan.

“And it was hard,” said Magnuson. “I didn’t really say goodbye because I still had hope, you know. I just kind of got down next to her and kissed her forehead and said, ‘I hope you recover.'”

Little did he know his words would be prophetic. The first word from Harborview came early Wednesday morning, said Carl’s brother Perry Arbogast.

“He’s there sitting at his chair at 2:30 in the morning,” said Perry, “and the doctor calls and says … ‘we have signs of life.'”

Ten hours after the crash, Harborview had found brain activity. They were calling, asking if they could perform surgery, said Perry.

“From being to the depths of losing your wife after 31 years, and then to find hope that she’s still alive?” he said.

As shocked family members drove to Seattle from Hermiston and Umatilla, Oregon, doctors removed a blood clot from Karen’s brain and cut into her skull to relieve pressure, said relatives.

And it appears to be working. As of Thursday night, Karen Arbogast’s condition has been upgraded to serious, said a hospital spokesperson. Though unconscious, she’s even moving.

“Today, she moved her upper shoulder and she wiggled her toes on her right side and her irises are responding to light,” said Duncan. He said Karen was even able to breathe on her own for 45 minutes.

Perry said a neurologist told them it is actually not unusual for victims to have no detectable brain activity for several hours after major trauma, but he’s calling it something akin to a miracle, though she’s not out of the woods yet.

“Had they not sent her here to harvest the organs they would not have found out she was alive,” said Perry Arbogast. “I think that’s remarkable.”

Family members said doctors are still giving Karen just a 25 percent chance of regaining consciousness. But for now, Duncan said she’s not worried about her mother dying anymore.

“My mom has just always been there for me and been a pillar of strength for me,” said Candice, who said people around the country have been praying for Karen’s recovery. “Mom taught me to hold on to that and never let go.”

http://www.khou.com/news/Woman-makes-miraculous-comeback-from-brain-death-diagnosis-105533163.html

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A couple news articles prompted my short posting today.

First up. 

The news this week that the actor, Neil Patrick Harris and his gay partner have become the parents of twins.  According to People Magazine, a boy and girl twin were “welcomed home” on Oct. 12th, apparently the result of some sort of surrogate situation.  I myself stumbled upon the news via Twitter, where Harris announced the arrival:  

Babies!! On 10/12, Gideon Scott and Harper Grace entered the Burtka-Harris fold. All of us are happy, healthy, tired, and a little pukey. 5:00 PM Oct 15th via Twitterrific

 My first thought was confusion, because I vaguely remember that Neil Patrick Harris had declared himself a homosexual.  Then I realized that yes, it was Harris and his gay partner.  The next twitter from NPH was:

Youngsters. They cry a lot. I thought it was just a long bit that they were doing. I keep saying, “Annnnd, scene!”… but nothing happens. 10:40 PM Oct 16th via web

At this point, I got rather sad, thinking of these two little children, infants, being raised by these two hapless men, without the necessary mothering touch of a woman.  No matter how sensitive and caring these two men are, neither can replace the soft embrace of a woman.  And I dunno.  It made me profoundly sad for these two babies.

But I should not worry as an anonymous source (the ubiquitous “close to the actor” friend) assures us that “Neil and David are going to make sure their kids have a normal childhood”. 

So there you go.  I feel much better now.

Second.

The immoral practice of invitro fertilization continues to confound states, courts and ethicists.  Funny how when we encourage selfish societal behavior we get such a mess to clean up. 

Seems that IVF has resulted in a large number of posthumous births, and consequently legal issues of inheritance.   If a baby is born after the parent’s death, sometimes without the prior or specific authorization of the parent, what legal relationship exists between the dead “parent” and the child?  Well, you’ll be assured to know that this is a rising legal field and we already have attorneys specializing in this.  This is really a great step forward for the neglected segment of our society: let’s call them “embryonic gold-diggers” who can be recognized in the wills of well-to-do dead folks by using the foolishly left behind eggs and embryos to give birth to children claimants. 

I wanted to add sarcastically to this post something along the lines of “well, at least the courts have gotten the mechanisms in place to deal with the evolution of these moral quagmires” what with the rise of invitro fertilizations, test tube babies, gay parenting, surrogacy, abortion on demand, no fault divorces, and contraception.  Then I realized that I just summed up history of the slippery slope we’ve been sliding down for 50+ years.  It’s a long grey line, and its getting longer and greyer.

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“If you commodify body parts, including reproductive materials, who’s going to be selling them? It’s going to be the poor. And who’s going to be buying them? It’s going to be rich people,” Jonathan D. Moreno, a University of Pennsylvania bioethicist, told The Washington Post.

“You’re gradually going down a slippery slope that not only undermines respect for certain body parts but eventually whole bodies of, say, people who are very old or very sick or very poor,” he said.

Do you feel that warm gunky sludge on your backside?  you know, from tumbling down the slippery slope?

keep finding these kinds of stories, the kinds of stories that the Church warned about years ago, but were dismissed as rubbish and “something that will *never* happen.”  Well…it’s happened.  An American fertility clinic is offering free eggs to a lucky winner in Great Britain.  If you read the article, you learn that actually this has been going on for some time and that now Quebec will be offering free eggs at an annual taxpayer cost of $80 million.   Our poor Catholic brothers and sisters in Canada, being forced to pay for the commodification of human life.  

To repeat what I said in a prior post:

Each hopeful would-be parent is not owed a child by nature.  As the Church teaches:

2378 A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The “supreme gift of marriage” is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged “right to a child” would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right “to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,” and “the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.”  (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

(If you do not know it, the Church condemns as a moral evil, IVF procedures.  See DONUM VITAE.  (For an explanation of the teachings, I recommend this article.)

Full article on AOL here.

St. Joseph, pray for us.  

(see this and this for my previous posts)

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