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Man Wants to Donate His Heart Before He Dies 456

Posted by samzenpus
from the cart-before-the-horse dept.
Gary Phebus wants to donate his heart, lungs, and liver. The problem is he wants to donate them before he dies. Gary was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in 2008. Phebus says he'd like to be able to donate his organs before they deteriorate, and doesn't consider his request suicide because he's "dead anyway."
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Man Wants to Donate His Heart Before He Dies

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  • Kinda (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:40AM (#33069852)

    While I don't really care to stop him in his request - let him do what he wants - I still consider the "dead anyway" argument flawed. ALL OF US are "dead anyway". Life is a condition with a 100% fatality rate. It's just a matter of when. Just because his when is likely sooner than most (not definitely though - I'm currently healthy but could easily be hit by a car this afternoon, and him still outlive me), doesn't make his death any less significant.

    In short, it's still suicide. The only question is, whether suicide should be legal or not. Were I in his shoes it's not a choice I would make (might as well eek out as much time as I can), but I wouldn't deny him the right to make the choice.

    • Re:Kinda (Score:5, Insightful)

      by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:41AM (#33069866) Journal

      If you don't own your body, then you are slave.

      Therefore it you are not slave, you should be free to do whatever you want with your body or its organs, including termination.

      • Re:Kinda (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:44AM (#33069910)

        If you own your body, then you are able to sell it into slavery...wait.

      • If you own your body, can you sell it into slavery?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556) *

        If you don't own your body, then you are slave.

        Then I guess we are all slaves because someone tried to put some THC into his body the other day and got arrested for doing so......

        • by decoy256 (1335427)

          Sad, isn't it?

        • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary @ y a hoo.com> on Thursday July 29, 2010 @12:55PM (#33071286) Journal

          If you don't own your body, then you are slave.

          Then I guess we are all slaves because someone tried to put some THC into his body the other day and got arrested for doing so......

          This is not logical. For instance, perhaps no one can possibly "own" a living human being. If you don't own yourself because no one can, then you aren't a slave. You can also "own" your body but still be a slave. You can have your liberty compromised without your body being compromised, for instance if someone threatens to take away your only livelihood unless you comply with their demands. You can also effectively be a slave simply through a lack of understanding of your own freedom.

          I only ever see this 'you own your own body' argument from libertarians, who use it to justify absolute property rights. But these absolute property rights lead directly to 'voluntary' slavery: do what I say or starve to death because we own all the property and you do not. The entire premise is a simplistic piece of philosophical masturbation. I say, just as no one can (or should) own the air we breath, no one can (or should) own a human, including themselves. Libertarians want to make everything about ownership, but ownership is a simplistic and selfish concept. I would rather have society based on mutual agreement (which is the only thing society can be based on, really, I just want that explicitly acknowledged.)

          Libertarians say, "You own your body, therefore you own the rewards of your work, therefore no one can tell you what to do with your property because that amounts to slavery." I like that conclusion, but why go to such convoluted lengths to reach it? It's much simpler like this: "You control the rewards of your work because everyone agrees that they would like to control the rewards of theirs." That's it. No need to invoke ownership or slavery at all, just agreement. And it leaves open the idea that we can and should limit property rights when they interfere with society. Sometimes, there are things that are more important than having total control over your own stored labor. For instance, pollution is an externality. That means that you should not be allowed to pollute your own property, because it imposes a cost on others. You should also not be allowed to buy up all the property and make everyone work for you or starve to death.

          In short, "I own my own body and therefore should have absolute property rights" leads, inevitably, to slavery. "We agree to these sets of rights and obligations" does not necessarily lead to slavery.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by HungryHobo (1314109)

        your *self* and your *body* can be considered distinct.

        It could also be considered that *nobody* owns you or can own you, not even yourself.(not my actual view but it's valid)

        I would have thought if he's intent on it he could just walk into a hospital specializing in transplants and off himself in some way that wouldn't damage his organs.

        Or just ride around on a motorcycle.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Zerth (26112)

          Go in wearing a non-resusc bracelet with a living will taped to your chest and just open a vein.

          Out of consideration for the janitorial staff, I suggest bringing a bucket.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bluefoxlucid (723572)
          Why do people think motorcycles are dangerous? Hell I've raced go-karts at 80mph (fuck yes, 15hp 6 speed shifter cart!) with full motorcycle gear including a helmet, neck brace, and mesh suit. You know what happens when you take a hairpin too hard on a kart at 80mph? ... you slide sideways for a while, say "fuck" a couple of times, right the kart, and get back on. Oh, and you lose, since that 8 seconds is enough for you to fall squarely into last place.
          • Re:Kinda (Score:5, Informative)

            by Rennt (582550) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @01:30PM (#33072070)

            Why do people think motorcycles are dangerous?

            1) MOTORCYCLISTS Selection bias favours thrill seekers & risk takers. 45% of all fatal bike accidents are single-vehicle accidents - they just fall off.
            2) CARS. Even assuming other road users are paying attention (you should never assume this - ever) a car is made of metal and weighs 20 times what you do. Altercations between cars and squishy people do not end well, no matter how much leather said squishy person is wearing.
            3) STATISTICS Motorcyclists are 16 times more likely to die in a crash. Total miles traveled by MC's makes up less then 1% of the national fleet, but bike riders make up 12% of the annual road toll.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by RichiH (749257)

              They don't just fall off. They slide out of curves, crash against stuff, etc.

              To simply fall off without other influences, you must be _really_ inept.

    • You raise an interesting point. If I own my body I can surely mutilate it.
      I can get a tattoo
      I can pierce my ear
      I can cut off a finger
      I can cut off an arm
      I can cut off a leg
      Or can I?
      But what if I get one of the attempts wrong and bleed to death? When does it stop being artistic and become attempted suicide?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ooshna (1654125)
        Don't forget about drugs its your body you can pump whatever chemicals you want into it... oops n/m.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Animaether (411575)

        But what if I get one of the attempts wrong and bleed to death? When does it stop being artistic and become attempted suicide?

        It becomes attempted suicide when your -goal- was your death.

        If you chop off your leg because you think you'd be happier with that leg gone.. go for it. If you then can't stop the arterial bleeding and bleed to death.. well, whoops. But your goal was only to remove your leg, not to kill yourself. Therefore, not suicide.

    • Re:Kinda (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:52AM (#33070062)

      His death isn't even that imminent, consider that Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS 47 years ago. An extreme case certainly (the longest survivor of any ALS patient), and I doubt that many people would have adapted to and overcome the psychological problems of the disease as well as Hawking has. But to say that ALS is 100% death sentence is obviously wrong.

      • We don't know the specifics of his case -- in his case, it could be an imminent death sentence. Just like some people survive cancer and some people die of it in short order. Usually an appropriate doctor can take a pretty good guess on these things even if it's not flawless.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nschubach (922175)

        Does it matter? If I get some terminal disease tomorrow, why can't I decide to relieve my family and friends from the burden of taking care of me?

        Why can't a person volunteer to end their life at any time if they know they will be a drain on society in general?

        I don't understand this mentality that someone else knows better about your well being than yourself.

    • by epp_b (944299)

      While I don't really care to stop him in his request - let him do what he wants - I still consider the "dead anyway" argument flawed. ALL OF US are "dead anyway". Life is a condition with a 100% fatality rate. It's just a matter of when. Just because his when is likely sooner than most (not definitely though - I'm currently healthy but could easily be hit by a car this afternoon, and him still outlive me), doesn't make his death any less significant.

      I'm going to make a judgement on whether or not he should

    • Life is a condition with a 100% fatality rate. It's just a matter of when.

      That's not what Holt Fasner thought...

    • ALL OF US are "dead anyway". Life is a condition with a 100% fatality rate. It's just a matter of when.

      Lets say 99.999999%. There is that freaky Jewish zombie that nobody has been able to hunt down and decapitate yet...
  • a psych eval..... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by metalmaster (1005171)
    Give the guy an evaluation and if he isnt deemed crazy or suicidal grant him his wish. His decision is rational enough
    • by nospam007 (722110) * on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:43AM (#33069902)

      "Give the guy an evaluation and if he isnt deemed crazy or suicidal grant him his wish."

      Wanting to die is usually always suicidal, no?

      • by cyber0ne (640846) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:58AM (#33070186) Homepage
        Accepting the inevitability of death isn't exactly the same as being suicidal. We all know we're going to die, most of us just ignore that fact in our daily lives. But when someone is directly facing that reality they may choose to want to make it "mean something" as in this guy's case.

        "Suicidal" means wanting to die. I doubt this guy wants to die, but he does want his inevitable death to mean something to someone.
      • Wanting to die is usually always suicidal, no?

        Wanting to kill yourself is being suicidal.

        But what if you want to die, but not kill yourself?

        If you are in incredible agony with no hope for survival, you may wish to die because death would be better than the agony.
        ( up for discussion, usually from religious views, but let's say that the person in question believes so )
        That wouldn't qualify as being suicidal on its own. You may not want to kill yourself.

        In the case of this story.. this guy obviously doesn't p

      • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @12:14PM (#33070518)

        Wanting to die is usually always suicidal, no?

        There's a difference between "wanting" and "not caring". My wife died several years ago from a brain tumor. Now I don't really care how long I live... Even have my Will, Living Will, DNR and body donation (to science, like she did) forms filed - and I'm only 47. Not only that, I'm not afraid because she's there - wherever that may be - even if only in the abstract.

  • No different... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the_one_wesp (1785252) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:41AM (#33069864)
    Than someone jumping in front of a bullet to avoid it hitting someone else. Both are willingly inviting death to save another's life.
    • Well, inviting death is somewhat different than guaranteeing it. I don't disagree with your unstated conclusion, but the rationale is somewhat different. My opinion is that if someone's experience of life is already painful, and guaranteed to get worse with no hope of recovery, they should be allowed to end it. And if they want to help others in the process, that's gravy.
      • by Xemu (50595)

        My opinion is that if someone's experience of life is already painful, and guaranteed to get worse with no hope of recovery, they should be allowed to end it. And if they want to help others in the process, that's gravy.

        There's a possibility that the doctor says to a patient "your life is over in 3 years, but if you kill yourself, you'd save another", but 2 years later after the patient killed herself, a cure for the disease is discovered.

        You would also run a the risk of a doctor lying to a patient there is

    • Re:No different... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cyber0ne (640846) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @12:04PM (#33070304) Homepage
      I wouldn't say "willingly inviting death" but I see the point you're making.

      I'm reminded of an episode of M*A*S*H where a soldier was brain-dead due to too much shrapnel turning his head to swiss cheese. The doctors were waiting for his body to fully die (all other functions were still going, but slowly fading) because they needed to harvest some tissue to save someone else. The soldier's friend, recovering from his own injuries, was upset that they were just waiting like vultures to butcher his friend.

      The priest asked him if his friend was the kind of guy who would jump on a grenade to save his buddies. The soldier responded that, yes, his dying friend would have done that without a second thought. "Well," the priest said, "that's what he's doing right now." He died back on the battlefield, the rest of his body just hasn't figured it out yet.

      This guy is facing a similar decision, he just wants to make it himself while he can before someone else has to make it for him.
    • One big difference, someone here has to kill him. A doctor or surgeon (someone pledged to do no harm) must purposefully end this man's life for him to get what he wants.

  • altruism incarnate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smoothnorman (1670542) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:43AM (#33069894)
    Sadly, the standard array of (AMA approved) bioethicists isn't ready for this yet. A very brave fellow who's picture should be in the dictionary in the definition of altruism.
    • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:55AM (#33070140) Journal
      I'm not saying his heart isn't in the right place (no pun intended), but if he considers himself a dead man anyway, is it really altruistic? It's kind of like the old millionaire who leaves his estate to a charity. Was it really charitable of him if he didn't give it away while he was still living?
      • by cyber0ne (640846)
        The net result is the same. The recipient of the heart, and their loved ones, will be forever grateful. The guy's true motives are between him and any god he believes in.
      • by AGMW (594303)

        I'm not saying his heart isn't in the right place (no pun intended), but if he considers himself a dead man anyway, is it really altruistic? It's kind of like the old millionaire who leaves his estate to a charity. Was it really charitable of him if he didn't give it away while he was still living?

        I'd say, by definition, this guy is offering to give away his heart and lungs while he's still living. That's the whole point of the story!
        If we was just saying "Hey, you know, when I die and shit, why not harvest my organs and stuff, and, you know, like give it to other people" then it wouldn't really be much of a story!

        Man carries donor card! Film at Eleven!

    • Unless he's actually just suicidal and is looking for a way to do it that his family and friends will be able to accept. Not saying this is the case, just saying that he needs to be thoroughly evaluated before you can even say if he's the ultimate altruist or just wants off the ride.

  • Assisted suicide (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:44AM (#33069918) Homepage
    It's the same physician-assisted suicide argument that cropped up so many years ago. The only difference is that this guy's going for a "noble hero" approach instead of a "suffering patient".
    • by Zeek40 (1017978)
      This one has a much better chance of succeeding though. Social conservatives who want to run other people's lives and Pharmaceutical Corporations interested in making a buck are the only ones who are against physician-assisted suicide, and now that they have the opportunity to profit from organ harvesting instead of profiting from end-of-life care, at least the Pharmaceutical Corporations may change their minds.
  • I'm not sure I'd want organs from someone who has ALS. Wouldn't that become a problem for me in time?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      RTFA, the organs he wants to donate are not affected by ALS. Do you really think it would have gone this far without first determining that? And if you don't want them, feel free not to take them, but I think you might feel different if your heart was ready to give out any day now.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by hipp5 (1635263)

      I'm not sure I'd want organs from someone who has ALS. Wouldn't that become a problem for me in time?

      ALS is a disease of the central nervous system. His organs are likely fine, his central nervous system that controsl them is not.

    • ALS is a genetic disease that affects the nerve cells involved in voluntary muscle movements only. It's not transmissible, and it doesn't affect internal organs that aren't under voluntary control (and for the record, your lungs aren't under voluntary control, they expand and contract based on the movement of your diaphragm). A heart, lung or liver from an ALS patient would be no worse for you than any other organ transplant (and heck, it might be better since most other organ donations come from accident v
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Zerth (26112)

        and for the record, your lungs aren't under voluntary control,

        Really? My voluntary cessation of breathing suggests you are wron

        +++ATH
        NO CARRIER

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by GungaDan (195739)

      Make sure you don't ever get any of that black blood in you either, Mr. Bunker.

  • Grant him his wish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StuartHankins (1020819) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:48AM (#33069992)
    And perhaps take some time to reflect on what the world would be like without people willing to sacrifice everything for someone else, even a stranger.

    Sometimes being in the limbo between life and death, waiting for it to arrive, is too much to bear. Give him peace in a dignified and respectful way.

    Perhaps it says something about us, that we require a psych eval before allowing someone to give so freely of themselves?
  • by frednofr (854428) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:50AM (#33070022)

    While this may seem like a good idea at first glance, the implications of accepting such requests could be terrifying:

    One could imagine threats such as "If you don't give your heart to patient, we will murder your family one by one".

    Desperate people with questionable morals will go to great length to save someone they care about.

  • Were it legal to sell one's own organs (which it should be), he would likely have already sold them, and given the profits to his loved ones - a win-win situation for all involved. Instead, we are stuck with waiting lists and high prices (due to lack of supply, due to ban on selling for profit).
  • A fiver says he watched the movie "Seven Pounds."

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Thursday July 29, 2010 @11:54AM (#33070100) Homepage Journal

    He may not want to accept being wheelchair bound but he could have a fulfilling life with ALS, even though the chances are relatively slim. He should take up physics, after all Stephen Hawkig isn't going to live *forever*. If he really wants to be an organ donor, he should do what every one else does: file the appropriate paperwork at the DMV and buy a motorcycle*.

    *As a motorcycle owner, I am comfortable with this joke.

  • I saw it on Monty Python's Meaning of Life. (Part V - Live Organ Transplants)
  • How long until the Anti-Kevorkians [wikipedia.org] create a media 'outrage'? You should be allowed to do what you want, when you want with your own manifestation and its components. If they allow people to have 'DNR' clauses attached to them in case of traumatic circumstances, or allow people to preemptively opt out of life support (having the plug pulled before they are 'dead'), then this mans behavior should be allowed.

    If you havn't seen 7 Pounds [imdb.com], it is a good watch and hits this issue in a different but powerful ligh
  • no surgeon would do it, lest he lose his license, due to those pesky ethics rules by which doctors must abide.

  • But would they really take organs for transplant from a diagnosed diseased donor?

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