Treatment Concerns – Definitions / Living Wills / Palliative Care / Terminal or Excessive Sedation / Organ Donation / DCD or NHBD / Hospice / POLST / DNR

DCD – Donors after Circulatory Death
NHBD – Non Heart Beating Donation
POLST – Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment
DNR – Do Not Resuscitate

Vague Criterion of "Brain Death" Leaves Potential Donors Clueless that They Donate While Alive

 ORGAN DONATION — Vague Criterion of "Brain Death" has Blinded Potential Donors to the fact that their organs are often harvested while they are still alive Shock: Oxford Neonatologist Says Time Has Come to Consider “Mandatory Organ Donation” Also suggests that “donor death” criteria for organ donation should be abandoned  According to Dr. Julian Savulescu, the Uehiro Chair of Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, and neonatologist and Oxford graduate student Dominic Wilkinson, bold steps may have to be taken to increase the supply of organs for transplant.  This, they say in a co-authored article published today, could be accomplished by removing one simple impediment – the requirement of donor "death." In a separate article, published last week, Wilkinson suggested an even more radical plan – mandatory organ donation. "We could abandon the dead donor rule," wrote the pair in today’s article, published on Oxford’s Centre of Practical Ethics’ website. "We could for example, allow organs to be taken from people who are not brain dead, but who have suffered such severe injury that they would be permanently unconscious, like Terry Schiavo, who would be allowed to die anyway by removal of their medical treatment." Romanian-Australian professor Savulescu's most recent statements are entirely of a piece with his outspoken advocacy of the most controversial forms of human manipulation, including genetic screening, cloning, human/plant or human/beast hybrids, and the use of performance enhancing drugs for athletes. Savulescu, a proponent of the most radical form of utilitarian ethics, told the Sydney Morning Herald in August that when he was a young doctor he was a “believer,” until he encountered an...

French Court: Parents Can Register Names for Miscarried Fetuses (2008)

France's supreme court has ruled that parents of miscarried or stillborn children can register a name for the child, no matter what stage of development the child was at at the time of miscarriage or birth, reports the AFP. Previous to this most recent ruling, parents in France were allowed to register a name for miscarried or stillborn children, but only after 22 weeks gestation, or if the child weighed over 1.1 pounds. This new ruling gives parents the right to claim the body of their child, which, until this point, was incinerated by the hospital along with other waste tissues. It also allows the mothers of miscarried or stillborn children to claim maternity leave. "The ruling is triggering a storm over the issue of abortion in France, with pro-abortion activists arguing that the ruling gives pro-life activists a strongly emotional argument for the humanity of the child, by indicating that a fetus at any stage has a right to a name." According to the AFP report, the ruling is triggering a storm over the issue of abortion in France, with pro-abortion activists arguing that the ruling gives pro-life activists a strongly emotional argument for the humanity of the child, by indicating that a fetus at any stage has a right to a name. "A fetus is only viable after 26 weeks," said Chantal Birman, deputy president of a pro-abortion group called ANCIC. "You have to take the timetable of pregnancy into account." She said that the court decision, "will help a rollback [on abortion availability] that has been taking place in Europe for the last few months." However,...

Vegetative State May Be Caused by Brain Cooling (2006)

Widespread Use of Cold Air In Breathing Tubes May Prevent Recovery of Brain Injured Patients  The odds of recovery from brain injuries and vegetative states may be dramatically improved simply by restoring normal brain temperatures, according to a new medical theory published in the August issue of Medical Science Monitor. The study was inspired by the case of 53-year-old woman who suffered a heart attack and oxygen deprivation of the brain. In the course of a few days she slipped from consciousness to coma and then to a vegetative state. For the following thirty-one months she was receiving oxygen through a tube in her trachea. But one day it was noticed that the oxygen in the tube was over thirty degrees below body temperature, due to an equipment setup that appears to be common in many hospitals and nursing homes. Acting on the speculation that such chilled air could not be good for the patient, the tube was removed. One month later, the woman came out of the vegetative state and was verbal and able to respond to questions. Inspired by this case, the authors began to investigate the physiological link between lung temperatures and brain temperatures. They found that chilled tracheal air will produce chilled aortic blood which will in turn produce a significant drop in brain tissue temperatures. Because the path from the aorta to the brain is short, a drop in brain temperatures may occur even though the core body temperature otherwise appears to be normal. But even a small drop in the brain temperatures can produce important deviations in neurochemistry and the endocrine system. These...

Truthfulness in Transplantaion: Non-Heart Beating Organ Donation

The Inconvenient Truth About Organ Donations Truthfulness in transplantation: non-heart-beating organ donation: Commentary Abstract   The Inconvenient Truth About Organ Donations: Physician sounds alarm about unethical or at least highly questionable practices of organ transplant industry There has been growing concern over the past several years about increasingly aggressive measures undertaken to harvest human organs from dying patients. Dr. John, Shea, a Toronto physician who has specialized in researching the issue, has just completed a report, Organ Donation: The Inconvenient Truth, that sounds an alarm about the unethical or at least highly questionable practices of the organ transplant industry. Dr. Shea reports on the modern and still very unsettled definition of "brain death" used by many organ transplant physicians to justify declaring organ donors dead and therefore fair game for immediate organ harvesting .   Shea points out, "There is no consensus on diagnostic criteria for brain death. They are the subject of intense international debate. Various sets of neurological criteria for the diagnosis of brain death are used. A person could be diagnosed as brain dead if one set is used and not be diagnosed as brain dead if another is used." It depends on what hospital or which doctor is involved in a particular case.  In fact, says Shea, "A diagnosis of death by neurological criteria is theory, not scientific fact. Also, irreversibility of neurological function is a prognosis, not a medically observable fact."   The coldly utilitarian goal of promoting the acceptance of brain death, says Shea, "is to move to a society where people see organ donation as a social responsibility and where donating organs...

POLST / POST / MOST

Commentary: Know Your POLST By Karen Ward, RN   POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment), also called POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) and MOST (Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment), is incrementally making its way across the U.S.   What is POLST? A physician's preprinted order sheet with check boxes to choose NO IV, antibiotics, do not resuscitate, and other treatment wishes, or lack thereof.   "Means To A Better End: A Report on Dying In America Today" was published in 2002 that hailed a state by state analysis by the now defunct Last Acts organization. Data allegedly did not exist until this report was published. http://www.rwjf.org/files/publications/other/meansbetterend.pdf   POLST is described on page 75 of this report and is part of the SUPPORT Study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Last Acts Committees and Advisors include Right to Die (RTD) supporters, and are listed on pages 96 and 97 of this report.   Myra Christopher's Center for Practical Bioethics introduced the concept of POLST to End of Life and Right to Die supporters in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) Community State Partnership initiative #3. That initiative specifically states POLST prevents unwanted, aggressive life sustaining treatment by Emergency Medical Service personnel. Does it do the job it was intended for? If so, the EMS problem ought to be resolved. Advancing assisted suicide laws and hastening death by use of this form is totally contraindicated to its original development and purpose. POLST was developed by Oregon EOL proponents with the claim there was no legislative inclusion; however, we now know POLST has been created by statutes,...

Critical Care Without Consent: Ethicists Disagree on Experimenting During Crises

The federal government is undertaking the most ambitious set of studies ever mounted under a controversial arrangement that allows researchers to conduct some kinds of medical experiments without first getting patients’ permission. The $50 million, five-year project, which will involve more than 20,000 patients in 11 sites in the United States and Canada, is designed to improve treatment after car accidents, shootings, cardiac arrest and other emergencies. The three studies, organizers say, offer an unprecedented opportunity to find better ways to resuscitate people whose hearts suddenly stop, to stabilize patients who go into shock and to minimize damage from head injuries. Because such patients are usually unconscious at a time when every minute counts, it is often impossible to get consent from them or their families, the organizers say. The project has been endorsed by many trauma experts and some bioethicists. Others question it. The harshest critics say the research violates fundamental ethical principles. The organizers said the studies are going forward only after an exhaustive scientific and ethical review by the National Institutes of Health, which authorized the funding in 2004, and the Food and Drug Administration, which approved the first phase about a year ago and the second phase six months ago. The studies are being conducted by the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium, a network of medical centers that do research in Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Dallas, Birmingham, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Toronto and Ottawa, and in Iowa and British Columbia. The first experiments, involving nearly 6,000 patients, involve patients who are in shock or have suffered head injuries from a car crash, a fall or some other trauma. About...

Study Finds Pain Control Need Not Shorten Life (JPSM, 12/06; PM, 3/07)

A new study finds that, when cancer patients are given appropriate doses of morphine to relieve severe pain, the treatment doesn't lead to the shortening of their lives. The finding is an important refutation of the argument euthanasia proponents make that pain control leads to death and isn't different from euthanasia. Dr. Declan Walsh of The Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, one of the study's authors, found that the pain control doesn't meet the misconception that it will depress respiration and shorten patients' lives. "It's in all the textbooks as something to be aware of, but probably the risk has been exaggerated," he told Reuters in an interview. "It's not that there isn't a risk, but that we've been perhaps been overly concerned about it," he added. Walsh's team monitored the breathing and vital signs of 29 patients who had been admitted to a hospital for treatment of uncontrolled cancer pain. A previous study investigated respiration in cancer patients after appropriate doses of morphine and this one looked as respiration as the dosages were adjusted. They found no evidence that the respiration levels of lowered and the vital signs remained normal. Walsh told Reuters that "morphine can be used safely even in patients who are very ill to relieve pain, and that physicians need not be as concerned about the use of the drug in that situation as we have been traditionally taught. This is all contingent on morphine being prescribed correctly." Commenting on the study, noted author and attorney Wesley J. Smith, who monitors end of life issues, said the study has implications for the debate surrounding euthanasia....

Non Heart-Beating Donation (NHBD): 5 Articles 2006-07

1. Palliative Care and Organ Donation http://www.pallimed.org/2006/03/terminal-patients-in-icu-and-organ.html Monday, March 20, 2006 Terminal patients in the ICU and organ donation In my job as a palliative medicine doctor, I am frequently talking with patients and families about the potential of withdrawal of ventilators/pressors/dialysis in the ICU. Obviously this is not the only thing I talk about, but it often comes up in discussing dignity and futility and all the things that demonstrate our limits with modern medicine. One of the things I have not seen implemented well (in person or in literature) is a way to make organ donation and palliative medicine work a little closer together. An article in the current Intensive Care Medicine describes a pilot project to develop a program for non-beating heart donors (NBHD) after withdrawal of life support. This Swiss study was prospective and identified 73 of 516 deaths that might be appropriate for NBHD of kidney, liver or lung. While they found that there was too much variability in how patients died in the ICU after withdrawal to implement their program, they did come up with some interesting data and discussions. Part of the dilemma in implementing a NBHD organ procurement program was the variability of time after withdrawal of intubation or pressors. They note it would be hard to have a surgical team on standby for a variably prognostic cardiac death versus a brain death where the organs are procured in the OR after the aorta is clamped (from my ancient 1998 knowledge during my organ transplant rotation on surgery). But this does give some helpful prognostic information for professionals dealing with near-death...

Trend in Organ Donation Raises Questions (3/07)

NEW TREND IN ORGAN DONATION RAISES QUESTIONS: As Alternative Approach Becomes More Frequent, Doctors Worry That It Puts Donors at Risk. The number of kidneys, livers and other body parts surgeons are harvesting through a controversial approach to organ donation has started to rise rapidly, a trend that is saving the lives of more waiting patients but, some say, risks sacrificing the interests of the donors. Under the procedure, surgeons are removing organs within minutes after the heart stops beating and doctors declare a patient dead. Since the 1970s, most organs have been removed only after doctors declared a patient brain dead. Federal health officials, transplant surgeons and organ banks are promoting the alternative as a way to meet the increasing demand for organs and to give more dying patients and their families the solace of helping others. Some doctors and bioethicists, however, say the practice raises the disturbing specter of transplant surgeons preying on dying patients for their organs, possibly pressuring doctors and families to discontinue treatment, adversely affecting donors' care in their final days and even hastening their deaths. Nevertheless, the number of these donations is on the rise. It more than doubled from 268 in 2003 to at least 605 in 2006, enabling surgeons to transplant more than 1,200 additional kidneys, livers, lungs, hearts and other organs. "It's starting to go up exponentially," said James Burdick, who leads organ-donor efforts at the federal Department of Health and Human Services. The trend is expected to accelerate this year. For the first time, the United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees organ procurement, and the Joint Commission on...

Medical Science Under Dictatorship (NEJM, 1949)

Also See… The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide by Robert J. Lifton http://www.holocaust-history.org/lifton/contents.shtml (entire book available online)  THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE VOLUME 241      JULY 14, 1949     NUMBER  2 MEDICAL SCIENCE UNDER DICTATORSHIP  Leo Alexander, M.D., Boston Science under dictatorship becomes subordinated to the guiding philosophy of the dictatorship. Irrespective of other ideologic trappings, the guiding philosophic principle of recent dictatorships, including that of the Nazis, has been Hegelian in that what has been considered “rational utility” and corresponding doctrine and planning has replaced moral, ethical and religious values. Nazi propaganda was highly effective in perverting public opinion and public conscience, in a remarkably short time. In the medical profession this expressed itself in a rapid decline in standards of professional ethics. Medical science in Nazi Germany collaborated with this Hegelian trend particularly in the following enterprises: the mass extermination of the chronically sick in the interest of saving “useless” expenses to the community as a whole; the mass extermination of those considered socially disturbing or racially and ideologically unwanted; the individual, inconspicuous extermination of those considered disloyal within the ruling group; and the ruthless use of “human experimental material” for medico-military research. This paper discusses the origins of these activities, as well as their consequences upon the body social, and the motivation of those participating in them. PREPARATORY PROPAGANDA Even before the Nazis took open charge in Germany, a propaganda barrage was directed against the traditional compassionate nineteenth-century attitudes toward the chronically ill, and for the adoption of a utilitarian, Hegelian point of view. Sterilization and euthanasia of persons with chronic mental illnesses was...

Euthanasia: A Historical Overview (MJCLI, 1991)

Maryland Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues, 1991 …Following World War II, as the horrors of the Nazi euthanasia program and the Holocaust became undeniable, the Euthanasia Society of America made little progress and, indeed, was essentially quiescent until 1967. That year, an educational arm of the Society evolved. Called the Euthanasia Education Council, it sought to initiate a more gradual and effective change in public attitudes toward death, dying, and euthanasia.1 The “living will”, introduced by Luis Kutner at a 1967 meeting of the Euthanasia Education Council, was chosen to serve as a vehicle for advancement of “passive” euthanasia and to intentionally blur critical distinctions between allowing death and deliberately causing death. The phrases “death with dignity” and the “right to die” reignited the euthanasia debate. Acknowledgment of future steps was limited to conferences and publications directed only at those who subscribed to the aims of the Society. Describing the need to “walk before we can run”, the problems of “who shall speak for those who are incompetent or incapable of speaking for themselves” were to “wait until the general public accepts the fact that man has an inalienable right to die”.2 The word “euthanasia” was deliberately expunged from organizational titles, public debates and polls. In 1975, the Euthanasia Society of America changed its name to the “Society for the Right to Die” and, in 1978, the Euthanasia Education Council became “Concern for Dying”. A year later the Society for the Right to Die and Concern for Dying severed formal ties. “Self-determination” and patient autonomy became the focus of carefully calculated efforts to allay public anxiety about euthanasia and...

Questions to ask about Hospice

In Alabama, there are at least 140 hospice groups. With this many, when you consider all hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities, it must be difficult to find enough well-qualified medical personnel.   It is also extremely difficult for the state health department to inspect this many hospice groups.   Another concern is that, because of the nature of hospices, that they become a "get rich quick" business, with an eye to the income rather than quality health care for the patient.   The average daily hospice rate is $107.00. Only 30 patients could gross over $1 million per year. Since no meals or housing are provided by hospices, there are few expenditures.   Check the link at ADPH — http://www.adph.org/providers/Default.asp?id=522 — or in your own state for information about hospice groups   Consider the social services offered by the hospice.   Check with your state health department to determine if any adverse actions have been taken against a hospice group.   Find out in how many counties in your state is the hospice located, and if they are adequately staffed to provide the care needed in every county.   Determine how experienced their doctors are in caring for terminally ill patients. Palliative care is quite different for the terminally ill as compared to care for others.   Ask for a list of references and contact...

Birth Certificates for Stillborn Babies

By J.C. Willke, MD People Magazine, December 11, 2006, published a very compassionate article on the issue of birth certificates for stillborns. In this magazine, not particularly known for any pro-life tendency, this article is almost a tearjerker and deliberately, or otherwise, sends a strong pro-life message. In it, we pointedly hear a number of stories of stillborn babies, e.g. "She was only about three pounds but she was perfectly formed. She had ten fingers and ten toes, and a full head of dark hair. She was identical to my husband – same nose and chin, and she was gone." This "devastated" couple got some "stunning" news. "We could get a death certificate, but no birth certificate. It was like something out of an absurd dream. How can you have a death without a birth?" Another bereaved mother from Arizona phoned the Bureau of Vital Statistics to request a birth certificate but, "The woman on the other end said, 'You didn't have a baby, you had a fetus.'" Not surprising, pro-abortion organizations, while professing sympathy for such mothers, nevertheless oppose the issuing of such a birth certificate, for it might "inadvertently lend support to the right to life lobby." The article quotes Elizabeth Benjamin [Director of Reproductive Rights Project of the New York Civil Liberties Union] who says, "Because a child would have rights independent of the mother, we prefer the word 'fetus.'" In response to this, the mother of the first child mentioned above wants to sidestep the politics of the issue. She said, "We don't want to get into the abortion debate. We are not asking for...

Chinese Army Harvesting Body Parts

From correspondents in Ottawa, China’s military is harvesting organs from unwilling live prison inmates, mostly Falungong practitioners, for transplants on a large scale – including to foreign recipients- according to a study. The report’s authors – Canada’s former secretary of state for the Asia Pacific region David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas – implicated dozens of hospitals and jails throughout China in July, after a two-month investigation. Chinese officials denied those allegations. Mr Matas and Mr Kilgour’s second report, released 1Feb, includes interviews with organ recipients in 30 countries and Canadian hospital staff who cared for more than 100 patients who had undergone suspicious transplant surgeries in China. “The involvement of the People’s Liberation Army in these transplants is widespread,” Mr Kilgour said at a press conference. Like many civilian hospitals in rural China, military hospitals turned to selling organs to make up for government funding cuts in the 1980s, the report said. But military personnel could operate with much more secrecy, it said. “Recipients often tell us that even when they receive transplants at civilian hospitals, those conducting the operation are military personnel,” the report said. Hospitals in Canada’s biggest cities – Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto – confirmed “a substantial number” of Canadians had travelled to China for dubious organ transplants, Mr. Kilgour said. “We’re in the three digits, up over 100 (from Canada each year), and the trend is accelerating,” Mr Matas said. To curb what they called a “disgusting form of evil”, the pair asked pharmaceutical firms to stop selling organ anti-rejection drugs to China. They also asked countries to post travel advisories warning...

Computerized Brain Connections for ALS Patients

COMPUTERIZED BRAIN CONNECTIONS SHOW BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE IN ALS PATIENTS Research, recently published in the journal Psychophysiology, sheds new light on the condition known as the completely locked-in state (CLIS), a state where the patient’s total lack of muscle control makes communication virtually impossible. Patients totally paralyzed with advanced ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) are among the patients considered to be in CLIS. ALS is a motor disease which progressively destroys the peripheral and central motor system in the body. German researcher Niels Birbaumer [University of Tübingen] found that when brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are used before the patient goes into the CLIS state, the patient can learn to communicate using the electronic device and continue that skill in the CLIS state. BCIs use activity in the brain to communicate by means of external devices like computers.  One of Dr. Birbaumer’s most significant findings was that the ALS patients studied rated their quality of life far better than their caretakers or family members did, even when the patient was completely paralyzed and on a respirator.   He also found that "only 9% of the patients showed long episodes of depression, most of them in the time period following the diagnosis and a period of weeks after tracheostomy." "In fact," he wrote, "they are in a much better mood than psychiatrically depressed patients without any life-threatening bodily disease." According to Dr. Birbaumer, most ALS patients choose not to have artificial respiration or feeding and then die of respiratory problems. They are often pressured into foregoing such treatment by doctors and family members who think their quality of life is too low...

Womb Transplants May be Possible Within 2 Years

London-based researchers, working with medical teams in New York and Budapest, have developed a technique for providing a transplanted womb with a reliable blood supply. Women born without a uterus or who have undergone an emergency hysterectomy would be among those to benefit from the procedure. The transplant would be temporary, doctors being reluctant to continue giving a patient drugs to help the body to fight rejection of the womb. That could leave the woman two to three years to conceive and carry a baby or babies before the womb was removed. Maintaining a reliable blood supply has been seen as crucial before the technique — which has worked in animals — can be successfully performed on humans. The first uterus transplant, carried out on a Saudi woman in 2000, failed when a blood vessel supplying the organ developed a clot. Richard Smith, a consultant gynaecologist at Hammersmith Hospital in West London, said: “By getting to a place where we seem to have a reliable method of giving the uterus a blood supply, that takes us a whole heap closer to being able to provide this for humans.” Mr Smith and his team, who have been working on the project for eight years, hope that before long they will be able to transplant a womb from a deceased donor into a woman who is unable to conceive. He said: “I think that two years probably is realistic.” Researchers in Sweden as well as Saudi Arabia are also working on womb transplants. Mr Smith said that about 30 women had expressed an interest in the procedure. There are thought be...

Prolonged, Unintended Brain Cooling May Inhibit Recovery from Brain Injuries

 Case study and literature review. Background: Tracheal intubations of comatose patients are common, but contrary to most standards for respiratory care, heated nebulizers are not always used. This deviation from recommendations appears to be widespread.  Case Report: In the case examined, a tracheotomized patient suffering from severe anoxic brain injury was unintentionally exposed to chilled air, 17°C (63°F) at the cannula, for a period of 31 months. A month after upper respiratory tract warming was restored the vegetative state lifted, as marked by the patient’s ability to verbalize responses to questions. Conclusions: This clinical experience led us to a review of the literature. Among other findings, we learned that brain temperature is strongly affected by the temperature of arterial blood flow. Arterial blood, in turn, is strongly affected by the air temperature in the lungs. Experiments have shown that the introduction of colder air in the lungs will produce rapid cooling of at least some surface brain tissues. Chilled aortic blood is also more viscous and less efficient in transfer of oxygen. Hypothermia of brain tissue may significantly affect the endocrine system and neurochemistry. Through inferences from the literature, we also identify other possible effects. We hypothesize that intubated delivery of air into the lungs at a temperature significantly below body temperature, especially over a prolonged period, is likely to inhibit recovery and may even produce iatrogenic effects. We recommend the use of heated nebulizers. Research strategies are recommended. key words: brain temperature • respiratory care • tracheal intubations • vegetative state • pituitary dysfunctions • encephalomalacia • growth hormone • coma • selective brain cooling  [Med Sci Monit,...

Questions Answered on Organ Donation

Interview with John B. Shea, M.D. Dr. Shea states that ethical heart transplant is not yet possible because of difficulty of determining certain death  With the Ontario Legislature entertaining a private members bill to institute presumed consent on organ donation, many questions are being asked on the matter.  LifeSiteNews.com asked Dr. John B. Shea, an M.D. who has written extensively on the ethics of organ donation, questions submitted by LifeSiteNews.com readers… Q. Is all organ donation morally questionable?  Which organs can be donated ethically? A. No, non-vital organs may be donated.  The most common living organ donation are kidneys. The body has two kidneys and when one is donated the remaining kidney grows in size and capacity to compensate for the missing organ. Furthermore a living donor may donate a part of a liver since the organ re-grows.  Also a living donor may donate part of a lung, or part of a pancreas.  While these organs do not re-grow, people are able to function with reduced capacity. Q. What is the problem with some organ donations? A. Following real death corneas and bone marrow can still be used.  However, organs such as the heart, lungs, pancreas and kidneys rapidly deteriorate after death and are not usable within a few hours. The fundamental question is – is the person dead?  It is not ethical to harvest organs from living persons if it will result in their deaths.  That is true even if we don’t know for sure that the person is living or dead, as in the case of some people in coma and on life support. Thus the answer to...

Stopping Pain – Some Neuropathic Research

By Short-Circuiting Pain Signals, These Drugs Are Poised To Curb The Silent Epidemic That Affects Tens Of Millions. On April 29, 1997, the supermarket tabloid the National Examiner ran this headline on its cover: "Miracle Pain Cure: Deadly Snail Venom." The garbled story within contained a kernel of truth. Doctors in fact were injecting a drug derived from the venom of a marine snail into patients suffering from the worst kinds of pain imaginable. One of the researchers responsible for this unlikely drug, neuroscientist George Miljanich, sits beneath a framed copy of the tabloid cover, which shares wall space above his South San Francisco, CA, desk with more staid covers from the journals Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience and the Journal of Neurocytology, among others. Miljanich works for Dublin, Ireland-based Elan Pharmaceuticals, and his snail-derived drug is called ziconotide. For the last 50 million years, predatory snails in the Pacific Ocean have been stabbing passing fish and killing them with their venom. In tiny amounts, though, one component of the venom actually blocks the pain in desperately sick and injured people-at least among the nearly 2,000 who have tried it to date. "Ziconotide is about a thousand times more potent than morphine," Miljanich says. "Upwards of a third of these patients experience significant improvement in their quality of life." Ziconotide is not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and because it can cause severe side effects, its future remains uncertain. But its ultimate fate in the marketplace is, in a way, beside the point. Because of its effectiveness in halting pain, ziconotide has spawned a new generation...

China Admits to Sale of Organs From Prisoners

Deputy Health Minister Huang Jiefu admitted that the practice of selling the organs of executed prisoners to foreign transplant recipients is common, while promising to change the policy. “We want to push for regulations on organ transplants to standardise the management of the supply of organs from executed prisoners and tidy up the medical market,” Huang said [UK’s Times on Line]. A liver sells to a foreign recipient for approximately $41,000 USD, the Times stated. Although a religious tradition in China maintains that the body must be whole and intact in order to enter the heaven, China is second only to the US in the number of transplants performed. It would seem the Communists do not let much go to waste, as a previous LifeSiteNews.com report — http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/sep/05091404.html — revealed that the skin of prisoners was also sold for use in cosmetic products for export to Europe and North America. Western human rights monitors estimate that the Chinese execute about 15,000 persons a year — more than the rest of the world’s judicial executions combined. In addition, the role of defense lawyers is seriously underdeveloped and they have little impact in court cases. When appeals against the death penalty are rejected, the sentence is carried out immediately, sometimes within hours. In addition to the enormous number of death sentences, the Chinese legal system makes use of the full array of traditional communist methods of suppression of political dissent. This includes the use of police-run ‘mental hospitals’, and ‘re-education through labour camps’ where the few who have been released report regular use of torture. China is widely recognized as one...