Mar 122008
Authors: Brian Lancaster

When I first applied to be a writer for the Collegian, I had the audacity to say that I didn’t want to write about serious issues; I wanted to make people laugh.

Well, even people who don’t take anything seriously can eat their words, if the situation demands it.

If you’re following the news, (All of the information presented here comes from you may or may not know that a doctor from California is involved in a lawsuit because he supposedly accelerated the death of a comatose 25-year-old patient.

The patient was a suitable organ donor and had suffered for sixteen years from a debilitating nerve disease.

The doctor, a Stanford graduate, was well respected in the medical community.

He supposedly ordered the patient to be given morphine, and a plethora of other drugs that are commonly used to make patients more comfortable as they approach their deaths.

I can see both sides of this case, I really can.

On one side, a mother feels that her son, the light in her life, was taken from her too soon, and the doctor shouldn’t have sped up his death.

On the other, the doctor might have done what he felt was right in order to save a life that could be saved.

But the worst part of this legal matter is that, whether or not the doctor sped up the patient’s death, by the time the patient died, the organs were no longer usable.

I’m not going to pass judgment on this; it would be futile. I don’t have the facts, I don’t have any evidence; all I have is the CNN article open on my computer.

The hurtful thing that I see is when the writers of the article talked to someone from the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.

The general consensus is that this case is harmful to the idea of organ donation and that the number of organ donors will decrease due to these legal proceedings.

I implore you, readers of this newspaper: do not underestimate the enormous amount of good that you can do with the memory of your life. Being an organ donor means you can save lives, if your life should be cut short in a tragic accident.

I am trying my hardest to think of a less morbid way to write about this, but I really can’t.

Disclaimer: I am not saying you should sacrifice your own life to give organs to people who need them.

What I am saying is that, if your time comes to meet your maker, you can leave behind a legacy of good will because you were a donor.

The saddest part of the trial I described earlier in this column is that no one benefited from the patient’s death; the organs were not usable, because it was too late.

His death – premature or not – left no legacy because, for whatever reason, it was too late to retrieve his organs. I know some people have objections to being organ donors.

That’s your business. But to all those people who were on the fence about being a donor, or who are donors: do not let what happened in this case happen to you. Be a donor and you can give a complete stranger a new chance at life.

Brian Lancaster is a junior English major. His column appears occasionally in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can sent to

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