News - Parts is parts?

Picking a bone with state’s organ donor program

You can learn some pretty interesting things while damaging your liver. Like the other night when I met this guy named Bobby in a Buckhead bar, and he told me that the State of Georgia is in the human organ procurement business.

That’s right. In Georgia it costs an organ donor eight bucks to get a driver’s license, while drivers who do not wish to have their marketable body parts harvested after death are charged $15 for the very same license. Forget about the urban myth of an unwitting kidney donor waking up in a bathtub full of ice — the state of Georgia is slipping its citizens a “Mickey” every time it renews a driver’s license!

Last year an American who wanted to auction one of his/her kidneys on eBay stunned the nation. The offer was viewed by most to be at best soulless and immoral and, at worst, illegal (federal law prohibits the sale of human organs). Yet hundreds of thousands of Georgians are “selling” their organs (albeit for a measly seven bucks) through this twisted and vile state-run program.

The issue is simple: Either a driver’s license is worth eight bucks or it’s worth 15. It can’t be worth both. The idea that the State of Georgia would bribe citizens in an effort to stimulate the number of organs available for transplant is so completely beyond the realm of government, it makes my head spin.

When did the cost of operating a motor vehicle become linked to a citizen’s right to treat their body as they see fit? Whatever happened to “my body, my choice?” What’s next for Georgians? Will the state, in an effort to reduce the financial burden of indigent children, start paying women to have abortions? How about a state-sponsored rebate for state-approved forms of sterilization?

God only knows the origins of the misdirected piece of legislation. Whatever the case, I certainly know that it is not, and never was the responsibility of the state to grease the skids of the body-part brokering business. Nor is it the role of government to pass moral judgment on the very personal choice of whether to donate one’s organs (before or after death).

The truth is, I find the entire organ broker/transplant industry to be a repugnant, inhuman and blatantly mercenary endeavor. While I recognize its right to exist in the private sector, I reject the idea that government, at any level, has the right to have a hand in this filthy enterprise.

If you think my views are “repugnant and inhuman,” think about this. Every time some alcohol- or drug-abusing celebrity (Mickey Mantle, Larry Hagman, David Crosby, etc.) needs a new liver, the cry goes out across the land for Americans to “give the gift of life” and become organ donors. Yet, while hospitals, surgeons, organ brokers, nonprofit agencies and even those who transport the harvested organs each take their slice of this multi-billion dollar transplant industry pie, the most important participant in the donation/transplant process — the organ donor — is the only one not compensated.

In short, while everyone involved is getting rich, those who would donate their organs (be they living or dead) are left to accept altruism as the only compensation for their “gift” actions (save the seven bucks the State of Georgia currently offers organ donor drivers).

This entire filthy industry is fueled by mankind’s infantile desire to attain immortality, and health care providers know this. I say, live life to its fullest. Accept that disease, genetic mutation and accidents are all part of the equation. When your number is called, bid adieu and move on to whatever awaits you.

You can call me a cold, emotionless prick, but when I’ve played my last hand and I’m out of chips at the poker table of life, I’m not gonna start swapping body parts so some Dunwoody heart surgeon can buy his snot-nosed teenager a PlayStation 2. They’re my kidneys! I’ll be damned if one of them ends up funding tennis lessons for some renal surgeon’s trophy wife.

Of course, that’s just me. If some fellow citizen feels comfortable registering as an organ donor, I say, have at it ... just be sure we each pay the same amount for our driver’s licenses. Keep the government out of the decision-making process. How I choose to treat my body is my business, not the government’s.??

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