Would You Leave Me Your Liver?

An anatomical gift is frequently a gift of life itself. It is a donation of organs and tissues

for the purpose of transplantation. The gift can also be for medical research. My daughter is a

doctor and I remember the reverence she displayed when she received “her cadaver” to explore

and to learn from. She told me later that her cadaver had a hernia.

Often consent to the donation of organs is requested at the worst of times. A loved one

has died and the subject comes up – can we harvest your loved one’s organs?

New Hampshire wants to encourage consideration of these gifts. It has done this by

passing the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. This Act addresses the subject of consent. It defines

what constitutes proper consent to donations of organs. It provides procedures to be followed to

have this take place.

The act requires hospitals to ask for donations. In addition, hospitals are required to

facilitate consent to anatomical donations. They offer information about the process and answer

questions as they arise. Importantly, if you are in a “bad way” having been brought to the

hospital, it gives hospital and emergency workers the authority to make a reasonable search of

your body/belongings for a donor card. It is now standard practice following a serious crash of

any kind to check a seriously injured person’s driving license. This is done to determine whether

an anatomical gift has been made by either the dead or serious injured person.

If you don’t want to make an organ donation, you can avoid being requested to do so by

executing a written refusal.

It is a felony to sell or purchase body parts, however gross that is to contemplate. That

law, however, didn’t stop Levy Izhak Rosenbaum from engaging in this activity. Mr.

Rosenbaum called himself a “matchmaker,” however, he wasn’t exactly acting like match.com.

Instead, he brokered the sale of black-market kidneys, buying organs from vulnerable people

from Israel for $10,000 and selling them to desperate patients in the U.S. for as much as

$160,000. Now that’s quite a profit margin!

I think it surprising that when he was sentenced, Mr. Rosenbaum received only a 2 ½ year

prison sentence. But, when he was sentenced, the courtroom was filled with well-wishers.

Apparently, Mr. Rosenbaum was widely regarded as a type of “Robin Hood of Kidneys.” I guess

that everybody does something for a living.

I love enterprise and I admire the entrepreneurial spirit; however, I draw the line at selling

body parts. How about you?