The unmet need for organ donors is acute, which explains why doctors are crossing an ethical line to access them. Ideally, organs should be harvested while the donor’s heart is beating and providing oxygenated blood. A new process to harvest organs is called normothermic regional perfusion. What they do first is remove life-sustaining treatment. After the heart stops beating, it is restarted but they clamp off blood flow to the brain causing “brain death.” After which organs are retrieved while the heart is still beating. What’s driving this horrifying ethical lapse? Money. Hospitals get paid well to harvest the organs, and if they supply the recipients with the organs, they can bill insurance companies for vast sums. There’s got to be a better way that doesn’t undermine organ donation.
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