Medical company demands that a woman be removed from life support so it can harvest her organs
I was under the impression that when someone was on life support, the family of the individual controlled the decision as to when to “pull the plug.”
But according to Courthouse News that issue is being litigated in California — “A man whose wife is on life support claims in state court that because she is an organ donor, a medical company said it had the right to remove her from life support and then harvest her organs.”
Gloria Woods is the woman on life support. Apparently, motor vehicle records indicate that she had wanted to be an organ donor. Sierra Donor Services, a harvesting company, contacted Ms. Woods’ husband to ask when it could retrieve her organs. When he responded that his wife was still alive, Sierra Donor Services insisted that it had the right to make the decision to pull her off of life support, not him.
The facts get worse. According to Ms. Woods’ family, Ms. Woods changed her mind about allowing her organs to be harvested prior to her car accident, and her family has documents that say as much.
Ms. Woods’ family now seeks relief from a court to stop the hospital from taking her off of life support.
Because of the sheer horror of these facts, it is likely that this case will get national media attention.
It sounds like this case will turn on permission — whether the medical company has the right to harvest Ms. Woods’ organs in light of her changing her mind. But another issue, one that I find very interesting, is who gets to decide when you are dead enough to harvest your organs, i.e. the hospital, the harvester, or your family.