Medical company demands that a woman be removed from life support so it can harvest her organs

Disclaimer — This image is intended only for illustrative purposes; it does not create any type of consent on the part of the author.

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.


~ by siouxsielaw on May 8, 2012.

7 Responses to “Medical company demands that a woman be removed from life support so it can harvest her organs”

  1. Wow. This is just… Wow. 1984, much? Nah, bad example…

    Oh, I know! Much better!!

    REPO- here we come!

  2. IT would seem to me that unless she had signed her power of attorney over to the medical harvesting company, they would have no say in the matter.

  3. I can’t stretch my mind enough to fathom how an organ harvesting company could possibly have any say-so over removing someone from life support. Ms. Woods never signed a contract with Sierra Donor Services… or likely even knew that they existed.

    It’s scary to think that organ harvesters could decide when someone is dead enough for harvesting. They’d have every reason to pull the plug as soon as possible. “He’s been unconscious for two hours. Let’s harvest his kidneys!”

  4. Organ donations are great to receive, not so great to give. I guess this the downside to promoting organ donation.

  5. While I think organ donation can be the gift of life to someone in need and could provide comfort to loved ones in knowing that I live on in others and not specifically opposed to it, this is precisely why I will never sign an organ donation option on my driver’s license or any other medium as no one could ever an answer these types of questions when I asked because doesn’t seem to be clearly defined. Sadly, all I can do is rely my wishes to my son and it will be up to him to decide what to do.

    On a lighter note, when I worked in Personnel at a company, one of our new hires, who was quite a character, had he would donate “everything but his gonads” on his license. He advised the BMV was not amused when he stated that.

  6. Burn that company to the ground. That is murder.

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