Category Archives: LifeSharers
I have written two blogs on LifeSharers. Both have received a great deal of attention. I had not intended to do another one on the subject this soon, but when I read the blog on StellarCross by Father Robert Lyons a “Primitive Catholic Priest” (http://www.stellarcross.org/2008/04/organ-and-tissue-donation-ii.html) I could not resist the temptation to reprint it. I have tried several times to reach Father Lyons, but could find no way to contact him. So I am taking the liberty of reprinting this without his permission. I hope that he, as a supporter of organ donation, will understand. His message is too important to ignore. I have highlighted LifeSharers comments in bold and italicized them in order to give clear separation between them and Fr. Lyon’s remarks.
Fr. Lyons‘ Blog (FL)
FL: In response to my post yesterday concerning Organ and Tissue Donation, I received an interesting comment. I posted it, somewhat reluctantly, but wish to actually expound upon why I don’t believe that the suggestion made in the comment is appropriate.
Dave Undis is the Executive Director of LifeSharers, a Nashville, Tennessee based organization that promotes an idea of prioritized donation on the basis of the recipient’s donation status (i.e., if they are or are not a donor). His comments follow, with my comments interspersed:
Undis: “Over half of the 98,000 Americans on the national transplant waiting list will die before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate about 20,000 transplantable organs every year. Over 6,000 of our neighbors suffer and die needlessly every year as a result.”
FL: agree with Dave; as a proponent of Organ and Tissue donation, I definitely am not thrilled that so many people do not elect to give the gift of life. That being said, why do people choose not to donate? In fact, how many people have truly rejected donation? Simply asking “Do you want to be an organ donor” at the license branch isn’t sufficient. We need education. We cannot blame those who do not know about donation for going to their graves with their organs.
UNDIS: “There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage — give organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die. Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors.”
FL: I doubt it. People use the same justification to support capital punishment. The United States executes, per capita, the largest number of criminals in the western world, yet we have one of the highest violent crime rates on the planet. People won’t have a clue about this idea – just as many have no real clue what donation is all about. Then, they will find out about it and it will be too late.
UNDIS: “It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren’t willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.”
FL: Again, what about a lack of education and knowledge? You are going to have to do better, Dave, in convincing me that this is a good idea. Until there is effective, universal education on this issue, your plan makes no sense. It excludes people who have bought into the lies about donation (i.e., they take organs from black folks and kill them and give them to white folks… or… if they know I am a donor, they won’t try to save my life). Look at the country we live in, Dave… do you REALLY think we have the knowledge in this nation to make your dream a reality? I don’t. Also, I am not willing to write off those who are ignorant of donation, just as I am not willing to write off God’s gift of eternal life among those who have never heard of Christ. To do so would be, in my mind, a betrayal of my Christian principles.
So, in short, Mr. Undis, thanks… but no thanks. Our Organ Donation system is flawed, needs help, and could stand to use a massive infusion of people… but it works far better than singling people out because of a lack of knowledge or because they have been taught all their lives that Donation is one group’s way of being a modern-day succubus off of another group.
When and if (and I do mean if) the United States passes a presumtive consent law concerning donation (you are a donor unless you opt out) then it will make sense to classify people based on their conscious decision to opt out of participating in the system. Until then, I am absolutely uncomfortable with any move to restrict donation in the fashion that LifeSharers suggests.
Posted by Father Robert Lyons
In case you don’t already know, I am a heart transplant recipient. I got my heart from a generous stranger seven months ago. I know what it is like to be dying and what it is like to hope beyond hope that you will get an organ.
My advice; if you want to save lives through organ donation, Joining LifeSharers is not the answer. They are illusionists and what you see is not what you get. If you are a LifeSharers member and you believe in fairness and in helping all people regardless of position in life, consider resigning your membership. I offer four reasons for my admonitions.
1. Deception: According to LifeSharers, “Organ donors should get organs first.” That is what they say but it is not what they mean. Just being an organ donor is not enough; you have to be an organ donor and a member of LifeSharers. Proof? Read this quote from www.lifesharers.org “Even if you are already a registered organ donor, you should join the LifeSharers network. By doing so, you will have access to organs that otherwise may not be available to you.” In other words, if you don’t join you have no access — even if you are a registered donor.
2. Insensitive, Immoral, Selfish: On the LifeSharers FAQ they ask, “Shouldn’t organs go first to the people who need them most and have been waiting longest? Their answer: “Organs should go first to the people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die…” Funny, until I wrote my last LifeSharers blog the answer started with, “NO.” But they removed the “No” when I was critical of it. LifeSharers does not care if you have only days to live. Unless you are a member of their club, you don’t get first dibs on an organ.
3. Insincere distraction. All over the U.S. there are honest programs doing what they can to promote fair and equitable organ donation. LifeSharers only hampers those efforts by confusing people. It is important to note, too, that for LifeSharers to grow large enough to have any influence and treat everyone fairly, everyone would have to join — everyone! When was the last time you heard of everyone joining anything? Besides, at their current rate of growth, about 2,000 members a year, it would take 500 years for LifeSharers to get a million members. But give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they can grow by 4,000 members a year. Then it will only take them 250 years to get to a million. There are 300 million people in the U.S.
4. Discriminatory & Unfair: If you haven’t heard about donation, have wrong information, just didn’t get around to signing up or don’t have access to a computer, LifeSharers thinks you don’t exist. If you are on the list and dying but not a member, LifeSharers isn’t interested in you. If you are an organ donor and dying, LifeSharers doesn’t care about you. Being an organ donor does not count unless you are a LifeSharers member.
Don’t be fooled by LifeSharers double talk, misdirection and truthstretching. Read and dissect what they have to say. It’s nonsense, it is unfair and it contradicts itself.
If you really want to help those in need of organs, sign a donor card, get it on your driver’s license, tell your family and then ask your family and friends to do the same. Those are the actions that will save lives. Want more information contact your local OPO or Donate Life America http://www.donatelife.net/.
PEACE from a grateful, no strings attached heart recipient and long-time registered organ donor.
This is my shortest blog ever.
Being as April is National Donate Life Month, I decided to re-visit my views on LifeSharers (www.LifeSharers.org). Upon doing so I determined that I can neither support nor be a member of a group that is exclusive rather than inclusive.
Yesterday I sent an email to LifeSharers Founder Dave Undis informing him of my decision and withdrawing my membership. ,While I do not approve of the UNOS/OPTN approach, the LifeSharers concept is worse. It is discriminatory and will punish innocent people on the waiting list whose only crime is that they did not take the time to become organ donors. Frankly, I believe LifeSharers could cause the unnecessary death of a non-donor if it ever affects a transplant from a donor to a donor. The end simply does not justify the means.
One of the keys to my decision was this one question and answer from the FAQ section (http://www.lifesharers.com/faq.asp) on the LifeSharers Website:
Q. Shouldn’t organs go first to the people who need them most and have been waiting longest?
A. No. Organs should go first to the people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die. This increases the number of organ donors, and that saves lives. As LifeSharers increases the supply of organs everyone benefits, even non-members. Besides, it’s a myth that organs are now given first to the people who need them most or have been waiting longest. Some of the people who need organs most can’t even get on the waiting list because they can’t afford to pay for a transplant. Many who have been on the waiting list a long time are removed from the list because they’re considered too sick to get a transplant.
(Since writing this blog, LifeSharers has removed the “No” from their response.)
I cannot imagine being so uncaring as to say the neediest person should not be offered the organ first. How cold! How utterly inhumane. That hard and immediate NO answer sent shudders up and down my spine. That, NO is, to me, the height of arrogance and will result in a death sentence for some poor, end stage sufferer who neither cares about nor is involved in the politics of organ donation. Worse yet, Dave Undis wrote the question and the answer. I only reprinted it.
UNOS has some serious questions about the ethics of the LifeSharers concept and I cannot believe that just because a few donor-to-donor transplants might take place that UNOS will suddenly find the practice not only ethical but also desirable and adopt it as the nation’s organ donation and transplantation policy as LifeSharers suggests it will. That will happen about the same time the Shia and Sunni quit fighting, embrace Israel as their dearest friend and get together for a group hug. In short, it’s a pipedream.
Life — Pass It On. If you are not an organ donor, become one today. Don’t take your organs to the grave, they could save or improve many lives. And — you will get a bit of immortality.
PEACE; from a grateful, no strings attached, heart recipient