The Wisdom of Solomon

By Legal Eagle

And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king.

And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other.

Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it.

Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.

And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged; and they feared the king: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment.

1 Kings 3, 24 – 28 (King James Version, because I like the poetry of it)

Difficult ethical decisions with regard to parenthood have obviously been around for a long time (if the passage above is any guide). But modern technology makes ethical decision making that much more complex. As this article in the Washington Post describes, Denver surgeons have recently published an article outlining a procedure whereby organs are removed from severely brain damaged newborn babies very shortly after life support has been turned off, and the organs are transplanted to other seriously ill babies who require organ transplants to survive.

However, the procedure has come under intense criticism, with some saying that the donor babies were not truly dead when the hearts were removed, and others saying that the procedure amounted to murder.

It is obviously a horrible thing to think about when one is in the third trimester of pregnancy (as I am). I don’t even like to consider such a possibility. But (God forbid) if my baby was severely brain damaged and had no prospect of recovery, would I allow his or her organs to be donated to another baby in those circumstances?

I think that I probably would allow my baby’s organs to be used, as long as I was assured that my baby would not suffer any pain or discomfort in the process. If it saved the life of another child, and there was no chance that my baby would live, I’d rather that my baby not die in vain and that his or her organs could be used to help another child to live. Still, it’s obviously a very difficult question.

2 Comments

  1. conrad
    Posted August 16, 2008 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    From an ethics perspective, I’m surprised they are allowed to do that since obviously you can’t get informed consent from the individual (only the parents). Do you know where they draw the line? For example, do you know if they think it’s okay to get organs from a 6 year old, even if the child but not the parents disagrees before they die?

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