Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend

My very best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving weekend to my American friends. For us in the transplant community Thanksgiving takes on a very special meaning. Transplant recipients, their families and friends have much to be thankful for. Those of us who received transplants, such as myself, have been given a "second chance" at life and we will always be thankful and grateful to our donors and donor families for the extra time we've been given.

In the U.S. 18 people die every day while on the waiting list for a transplant. Here are the latest statistics
on waiting list numbers and transplants year to date:

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN)

Waiting list candidates 120,965 as of today 1:56pm
Active waiting list candidates 77,586 as of today 1:56pm
Transplants January - August 2013 19,262 as of 11/22/2013
Donors January - August 2013 9,446 as of 11/22/2013

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Lungs that live on after donor's death give hope to transplant patients

Pair of lungs that live on after donor's death give hope to transplant patients

  • University of North Carolina found lungs kept alive by air for up to 4 hours
  • Surgeons could now recover organs from people who die suddenly at home
  • Experts predict the procedure could see thousands more transplants a year
Breakthrough: Though organ donors are still few, the new procedure could significantly boost transplant numbers
Breakthrough: Though organ donors are still few, the new procedure could significantly boost transplant numbers

A pair of lungs that survive a donor's death have been hailed as a breakthrough for transplant patients.

Scientists found the organs can live for up to four hours after someone dies.

Unlike other organs, the air left inside keeps them from deteriorating.

In a groundbreaking $4million experiment, researchers at the University of North Carolina managed to recover lungs from people who died suddenly at home by pumping air into them within an hour of death.

Experts predict the procedure could see tens of thousands more transplants a year in America and the UK - and has paved the way for tests on other parts of the body.

Before, surgeons believed organs could not be retrieved from people who died unexpectedly.

As just two to three per cent of people die in circumstances appropriate for organ donation, lung transplants are rare and doctors often tell patients not to hold out hope.

But the new procedure could ease waiting lists which fail to save thousand each year.

In the on-going, three-year study, researchers used a pump to inject a small amount of air into the lungs of someone that died at home before transporting the body to hospital.

When it reached the theatre, the lungs were still 'breathing'.

'There aren't enough lungs. We're burying them,' said Dr. Thomas Egan of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who is leading the project. 'It turns out your lungs don't die when you do.

'There are huge logistical hurdles,' he said. 'But if we're right, this would have a profound impact on the number of lungs that are available for transplant.'

Lung cells don't depend on blood flow for oxygen, Dr Egan explained. When the heart stops beating, they use what oxygen is left in the air sacs and airways.

In a series of experiments with animals, Dr Egan showed lungs stay viable for an hour, or four hours if they are ventilated, before they're cooled to await transplant. 

Currently, only 15 per cent to 20 per cent of donated lungs are usable, often because complications during the donor's hospitalization damaged them.

Just 1,700 lungs transplants are performed each year, compared with nearly 11,000 kidney transplants from deceased donors.

Dr Egan, a cardiothoracic surgeon, said doctors don't even suggest the possibility of a lung transplant to thousands who might benefit because there aren't enough donors.

However, surgeons don't know if nontraditional organs work as well, cautioned Dr. Bryan Meyers of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

And critics warn even an hour is a limited amount of time to get hold of families to get consent for the procedure.
Dr Egan blasts ethical gripes with his project, claiming the ventilation process is merely an extension of CPR.

Typically, paramedics leave the breathing tube inserted in the person's throat. That makes it simple to restart ventilation to preserve the lungs, Egan said.

'If we can get the lungs ventilated within an hour, and then removed within an hour or two and cooled, we think they'll work just fine,' he said.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Cleveland Clinic creates transplant ethics fellowship

By Michael C. Butz, Cleveland Jewish News

A fellowship focused on developing physician expertise on the ethical issues involved in organ transplantation has been created by Cleveland Clinic, the medical center recently announced.
“Organ shortages, allocation issues and informed consent policies for living donors are among the many ethical issues that confront the transplant field,” said Dr. Eric Kodish, director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Ethics, Humanities and Spiritual Care, in a Nov. 7 statement. “By establishing the nation’s only current transplant ethics fellowship, we will develop experts in an area of medicine that will only become more complex in terms of ethics.”
Dr. Eric Kodish
Dr. Eric Kodish
Dr. David Shafran is the program’s first fellow. Shafran graduated from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv, Israel; completed his pediatrics residency at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y.; and is currently a pediatric nephrology fellow at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.
Shafran and Dr. Kathryn Weise, the program’s director, are developing a curriculum that will effectively familiarize fellows with the core ethical issues surrounding organ transplantation and provide ample material and opportunity for independent research, according to the Clinic. Once adequately established, the curriculum and program in general could potentially serve as a model for similar projects at other health care institutions.
“The goal and challenge in bioethics is to keep the conversation about the emerging issues on pace with rapid advances in medical technology,” Shafran said. “Similarly, as our medical capabilities in organ transplantation progress, it behooves us to address the commensurate ethical issues methodically and comprehensively. This fellowship represents an acknowledgement of that responsibility.”
A donation from former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin and his wife, Judith, helped create the fellowship. The program’s steering committee includes Dr. David Goldfarb, director of the renal transplant program; Dr. Charles Miller, director of the liver transplant program; and Martin Smith, director of clinical ethics. Weise also directs the Cleveland Fellowship of Advanced Bioethics.

More than 120,000 people are awaiting organ transplants in the United States. In 2012, 28,051 people received organ transplants, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Alberta, Canada makes it easier to donate tissue and organs

The province  is making it easier for Albertans to register as organ donors.

Albertans will soon see wait times reduced for life-changing transplants with the proclamation of Bill 207, the Human Tissue and Organ Donation Amendment Act.  The Act was originally introduced as a private member’s bill by MLA Len Webber.

“Organ and tissue donation saves lives and we need to make sure Albertans know how important it is. An online registry will make it easy for Albertans to provide their consent to donate, ensuring all Albertans who wish to donate make it known,” said MLA Calgary Foothills Len Webber. 

The Act establishes a single agency to co-ordinate organ and tissue donations in Alberta, and creates a consent-to-donate registry. Albertans who are willing to donate their organs and/or tissue will be able to do so either online or at their local registry when they go to renew their driver’s licence or other identification. 

Alberta Premier Alison Redford
Alberta Premier Alison Redford

“I want to thank MLA Len Webber for putting this vitally important legislation forward. Our government is eager to do everything we can to reduce wait times for transplants and give Albertans in need access to the treatment that will save or drastically improve a life,” said Premier Alison Redford .

“We want to take aggressive action to increase tissue and organ donation rates in Alberta. By making it easier for Albertans to register their intent to donate and raise awareness of the need for donors, we can increase the number of organ donations in Alberta,” said Fred Horne Minister of Health.

Up until the new Act was proclaimed, consent to donate needed to be provided in writing, dated, signed and witnessed, to be legally binding. Albertans could also sign the “Universal Donor Card” on the back of the government issued Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan card.

Under the new Act, Albertans renewing their driver’s licences or other pieces of identification will be asked if they consent the donation of his or her tissue, organs or body. They then provide written consent, and the registry agent transmits that information to the Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Agency for inclusion in the online registry. The applicant will then receive a sticker than can be put on the driver’s licence or other identification to indicate he is a donor. Albertans will also be able to directly register online.
“We are so pleased that the Government of Alberta listened to our concerns. The sad fact is that many Albertans on organ donation wait lists die before a donor is found. This Bill will make a big difference in the lives of many Albertans waiting for transplants,” saiud  Nancy MacDonald, Alberta Donates LIFE Coalition 

Alberta used to have 17 donors per one million of the population, but that has fallen over the past decade to less than 10. Ontario and British Columbia both outperformed Alberta with a donor rate of 16.3 donors per million and 11.8 donors per million, respectively, in 2011. Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba have implemented online registries. While donor rates fluctuate, these provinces have successfully raised the public profile of the need to donate.

The donation co-ordination agency is scheduled to be operational by 2015, with full IT system integration across the province within three to five years.

Under the Building Alberta Plan, our government is investing in families and communities, living within our means, and opening new markets for Alberta’s resources to ensure we’re able to fund the services Albertans told us matter most to them. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for.

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Organ donation in Australia in 21st place worldwide

Organ donation in Australia is way behind the world leaders, according to international rankings that put the country in 21st place.
Australia ranks 21st for organ donation
Spain is the world leader, and France, the US, UK, Belgium and Norway are among the countries with higher proportions of donors than Australia. (see world rankings below).
The figures compiled by Sharelife Australia draw on international donor data published by the Council of Europe.
The data shows hundreds of Australians are missing out on life-saving transplants every year.
This is because a $151 million, four-year package announced by the federal government in 2008 has failed to achieve its goal of establishing Australia as a world leader.
There has been an improvement, says ShareLife spokesperson Sara Irvine, but Australia's progress is slower than many other countries.
Australia's rate of organ donation is half that of the leading countries, and 1000 more transplants could be performed a year if it reaches the level of the top five countries.
"We are still not in the top 20 nations and have long way to go," says ShareLife director Professor Allan Glanville, medical director of lung transplantation at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney.
"Organ donation saves lives, saves money and improves quality of life.
"You only need to talk to people who have been on kidney dialysis to see how well and productive they are after a kidney transplant.
"The Spanish model is very compassionate. It is supportive of families."
Family consent is needed, even if a person has opted in as a donor.
In Spain, skilled organ donation specialists speak to family members, which improves the chances of donation.
"They support families through what is an awful process."
Prof Glanville says there are good people doing good work in Australia.
"But we need to tweak the system so we are consistent from state to state."
He questions why South Australia and Victoria have 20 deceased organ donors per million of the population and NSW has 14.
"Australia needs to increase to 30 per million to be in line with the top four or five countries.
"Change takes time, but unless we improve we are failing in our duty of care to our patients.
"I have patients who are waiting for transplants and if they don't get a transplant they may well die."

According to the National Transplant Organization in Spain this is how countries rank in organ donation per million people
Spain: 35.3
Croatia: 34.4
Portugal: 28.1
United States: 26
France: 25
Norway: 24.5
United Kingdom: 17
Sweden: 15.5
Canada: 15.4
Australia: 14.9
Israel: 10.8
Ecuador 2.0
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Scientists discover experimental drug that protects from fibrosis of the liver, lung and kidneys.

As a lung transplant recipient who was in end-stage respiratory failure due to pulmonary fibrosis this story caught my immediate attention. IPF, or Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, is one of he major causes of the need for lung transplants and a medical breakthrough such as this has the potential to save thousands of lives around the world.

Edinburgh scientists lead pioneering research with scar tissue to help cut organ transplants

A discovery about how tissues scar could help cut the number of patients needing organ transplants, scientists have said.
New drugs could be developed to treat fibrotic diseases that attack organs such as the liver, lung or kidneys, a study published in Nature Medicine suggests.
Experts have discovered that a molecule on certain specialised cells known as myofibroblasts acts as a "switch", regulating the production of scar tissue.
The team studied specially bred mice with fibrosis and found that removing the molecule - called alpha v integrin - from the cells protected the animals from fibrosis of the liver, lung and kidneys.
They also discovered that when the mice were treated with a new experimental drug designed to block the molecule, they were protected from liver and lung fibrosis.
Dr Neil Henderson, a Wellcome Trust clinical scientist and consultant hepatologist at the University of Edinburgh/Medical Research Council Centre for Inflammation Research, said: "When tissue scarring becomes severe, affected organs do not work properly and currently the only treatment for end-stage organ failure is transplantation.
"However the shortage of donor organs means that many patients die while waiting for surgery.
"Therefore, the development of new therapies to treat fibrosis and reduce the need for organ transplantation would potentially be a major step forward in the treatment of patients with these devastating diseases."
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Monday, November 11, 2013

Rembrance Day/Veterans Day November 11th

Veterans Day is an official United States holiday which honors people who have served in armed service, also known as veterans. It is a federal holiday that is observed on November 11. It coincides with other holidays such as Armistice Dayand Remembrance Day, which are celebrated in other parts of the world and also mark the anniversary of the end of World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when theArmistice with Germany went into effect.)

Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. This day, or alternative dates, are also recognised as special days for war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth countries. Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918. Hostilities formally ended "at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month," in accordance with the Armisticesigned by representatives of Germany and the Entente between 5:12 and 5:20 that morning. ("At the 11th hour" refers to thepassing of the 11th hour, or 11:00 am) World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919.

Remembrance - I like this Canadian teacher's powerful message!

Back in September, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social studies school teacher at Bobcaygeon (north of PeterboroughOntario) public
 school, did something not to be forgotten.  On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she removed all of the desks out of her classroom.

When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there were
 no desks.

'Ms.. Cothren, where're our desks?'

She replied, 'You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.'

They thought, 'Well, maybe it's our grades.'

No,' she said.

'Maybe it's our behavior.'

She told them, 'No, it's not even your behavior.'

And so, they came and went, the first period, second period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom.  By early afternoon television news crews
had started gathering in Ms.Cothren's classroom to report about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of her room.

The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found seats on
 the floor of the desk-less classroom, Martha Cothren said, 'Throughout the
day no one has been able to tell me just what he or she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now I
am going to tell you.'

At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it.

Twenty-seven (27) War Veterans, all in uniforms, walked into that classroom,
 each one carrying a school desk. The Vets began placing the school desks in rows, and then they would walk over and stand alongside the wall. By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place, those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first timein their lives, just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned.

Martha said, 'You didn't earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes
 did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. Now, it's up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens. They paid the price so that you could have the freedom to  get an education.  Don't ever forget it.'

By the way, this is a true story.


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Friday, November 08, 2013

U.S. Transplant Games 2014 - July 11-15

Are you a transplant recipient, a donor family member, or a living donor who is interested in competing in the 2014 Transplant Games of America? Mark your calendar! The 2014 games will be held in Houston, Texas on July 11-15! Not sure what we're talking about or want more information? Check out this video clip, then run on over to .

The games will be held at BBVA Compass Stadium, the George R. Brown Convention Center and various other facilities throughout the City of Houston.

Expecting in excess of 2,000 athletes, sports events include a 5k run, badminton, basketball, bowling, cycling, golf, racquetball, swimming, table tennis and track and field. "I can't wait for Houston to host the Games," said Brian Gilliam, a Houston transplant recipient and athlete.  "We will have a large number of living donors and donor families attend since the Games are in Houston and they are a reason that we compete!"
Aside from the sporting competition. which will take place over four days, the event will include spectacular opening and closing ceremonies and a series of tributes to many of the heroes of organ donation. Athletes and their families, donor families and thousands of supporters will gather at Athletes Village to help deliver the important message that organ, eye and tissue donation saves lives.
According to Donate Life America, as of July 2012, there are 114,712 individuals in the United States awaiting a lifesaving organ and 1,737 are pediatric patients.  Last year, there were 28,535 organs transplanted from 14,144 donors.
In Texas alone, 11,000 men, women and children are waiting for a lifesaving transplant; more than 3,000 are from the greater Houston area. Donate Life Texas, which is the official database of Texans authorized to be organ, eye and tissue donors upon their deaths, reports that the number stands at approximately 3 million registrations. The more registered donors there are, the greater the chance of finding matches for people in need.
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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Record-setting transplant patient still feels healthy after 25 years

When Colleen Kohse woke in a hospital room with a new heart and lungs, she tried not to think about how short her salvaged life might be and instead focused on the fact she could breathe.
On Tuesday (Oct 29), Canada’s longest surviving heart and double-lung recipient celebrated the 25th anniversary of her surgery, which came at the forefront of a wave of transplants that gave new hope to patients who were suffering from cystic fibrosis.
Colleen Kohse (middle), Canada's longest-surviving heart/lung recipient, marks the 25th anniversary of her transplant at the BC Transplant offices in Vancouver, Oct. 22, 2013. (Rafal Gerszak for The Globe and Mail)
Colleen Kohse (middle) at B.C. Transplant offices
Photo: Rafal Gerzsak for Globe & Mail

“I’m really happy to be here and to be able to breathe deeply, though I’m hyperventilating a bit right now,” said Ms. Kohse, 54, who seemed healthy and vibrant, if a bit nervous facing television cameras at a news conference in Vancouver.
“After all these years when I look back I still find it amazing,” she said, thanking organ donors for giving people like her a second chance at life. “It’s not just a donation; it’s a living legacy the families and their donors leave behind. As you can see, people can go on for a long and healthy life, so people are giving that to other people, which I think is tremendous.”
In 1988, Ms. Kohse was sent to England for the surgery, which wasn’t yet being performed in British Columbia.
She waited two months for someone to donate a heart and lungs. Her own heart was healthy, but at the time surgeons liked to do the two organs “as a block,” she said. Her heart went to another transplant patient, a man who went on to live for 17 years and have two children.
“It was sort of like being Frankenstein because I had so many tubes and stuff coming out of me,” she said of waking up after the surgery. “But very shortly I was able to breathe and that was a big thing. My fingers were pink, my lips were pink and it was just a tremendous feeling. To go for all my young life not being able to breathe and suddenly to be able to get up and move around and walk – it was just unbelievable.”
Asked how long she thought she was going to live at that moment, Ms. Kohse said people with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that affects the lungs and other organs, live so close to death they try not to think about that.
“I tried never to look at dying. I mean, people with cystic fibrosis, it’s always in the back of our mind because we have that short lifespan and we don’t plan for the future. We don’t plan ahead a lot of time because of that,” she said.
Dr. Robert Levy, director of the Vancouver General Hospital lung transplant program, said Ms. Kohse’s anniversary is a remarkable milestone.
“It’s a huge event … it really spans almost the whole history of lung transplantation,” he said. “People like Colleen Kohse were pioneers and at the very forefront of what was happening in clinical transplantation at the time. People like Colleen were explorers, going out, not sure whether they’d return. Like an astronaut, going to the moon and hopefully coming back.”
He said about 100,000 lung transplants have been performed worldwide since the early 1980s and in B.C. there have been 255 since the first in 1989.
Dr. Greg Grant, executive director of BC Transplant, the provincial agency that handles all transplants in B.C., said operations such as the one that saved Ms. Kohse’s life couldn’t take place without the donation of healthy organs.
“When we have to ask a family for permission to consider organ donation it’s a really tough time,” he said. “We see families reach out – and that’s what I find incredibly exciting, that at the time of their worst disaster, people look forward, they look forward for something good to happen out of this event.”
Ms. Kohse celebrated the anniversary by having cake with friends, family and medical staff at BC Transplant.
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Monday, November 04, 2013

Organ transplants and other therapies condemned on religious grounds

This article offers a thoughtful discussion on the refusal of parents to deny their children life-saving medical treatment because of their religious beliefs. Readers can make up their own minds about the rights of parents when it comes to their children's health.

YAHANDA: Don't stop believing

Pediatricians are right to intervene when parents try to prevent their children from receiving life-saving medical treatment for religious reasons

Children, however, should not let their parents’ spiritual beliefs shorten or adversely affect the rest of their lives.

The field of bioethics constantly addresses medical situations in which disagreements arise based on religious beliefs. Organ transplants, stem cell therapies and ending life support or artificial nutrition and hydration are commonly condemned on religious grounds. Moreover, people of certain religious faiths may even refuse potentially life-saving treatments like blood transfusions, abortions and — in this instance — chemotherapy.
When patients are mentally competent and legally adults, patient autonomy typically prevails, and physicians respect their patients’ wishes to forgo treatment — even if that treatment is lifesaving. That doesn’t mean that the physician must conclude that a patient is making the right choice or agree with the ways in which the patient justifies his decision. Rather, this practice accords with the commonly held view that medical professionals should not administer treatments against their patients’ wills. Practicing medicine paternalistically — that is, acting in a way that is contrary to a patient’s competent and voluntary decisions — is usually deemed unethical. But what if the patient is not an adult? A new bioethics decision seeks to address this.
On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Bioethics issued an advisory statement regarding how parents’ religious beliefs may affect their children. Currently, most states have clauses in their child-abuse legislation that exempt parents from prosecution if they fail to obtain medical care for their children for religious reasons.
According to the committee, pediatricians should feel obligated to intervene when parents’ religious beliefs lead to children not receiving necessary medical treatment. If parents do not acquiesce to doctors’ wishes, child abuse agencies can step in. The committee further recommended that states close loopholes in child abuse and neglect laws that may result in children being denied necessary care because of parents’ religious beliefs.
The committee’s statement is no doubt going to face backlash from religious communities who will view the decision as oppressive to religious freedom, perhaps much in the same way as Christians rebelled to the idea of health insurance providers covering contraceptives. And, if the ruling applied to adults as well as children, those opponents would be vindicated. Competent adults are free to make autonomous medical decisions regardless of how they justify those choices. But when children are concerned, the distinction between paternalism and autonomy becomes less clear. I believe the committee made the right choice. A child in need of medical care should not be bound by his parents’ religious beliefs.
To be sure, the consequences of the committee’s ruling are difficult to ascertain since it is hard to tell when a child’s wishes are based on his own thinking and when they are derived merely from his parents’ beliefs. Based upon their obligations as medical professionals to provide the best care possible, however, pediatricians should always seek to give children life-saving treatments. Regardless of the child’s situation, that seems like the most beneficial option.
Take, for instance, the simplest case, where a child’s desires are different than his parents’. Maybe the child is not religious, or his personal spiritual beliefs do not preclude him from wanting a necessary medical treatment. It would, and should, be considered unethical for a doctor to allow the parents to control their child’s health based upon their religious beliefs. It is irrelevant what the parents believe in that situation. The child, whose health is actually in jeopardy, should not be denied care simply because he is not of legal consenting age. Admittedly, this situation is more clear-cut, and the committee probably would not have to sway many people to adopt this stance.
What if, though, the child mimics the parents’ beliefs and refuses a lifesaving treatment on religious grounds? Here, the committee’s ruling still promotes the best decision. A young child may not be competent enough to truly know what he wants. He may mindlessly mirror his parent’s beliefs because that is all he knows. Or, he cannot fully comprehend all his options, in which case he cannot be considered entirely autonomous. A necessary treatment, then, may be permissibly administered to the child.
This decision could be justified in a couple of ways. It may very well turn out that the child grows up to have different beliefs than his parents. In that situation, the child’s life would have been saved or prolonged by his pediatrician’s decision to go against the parents’ beliefs. Additionally, a person’s religious beliefs are largely influenced by where he was born. That is why, for example, those in predominantly Arab or Christian countries tend to be Muslim or Christian. One’s religion is heavily influenced — though not necessarily determined — by one’s upbringing, family, ethnicity, educational exposure and other circumstances. There is nothing that proves that a person is of a particular faith because that faith is objectively right. Indeed, sheer chance plays a large role in predisposing people toward some particular religion. So why should a child be denied a treatment simply because he happened to be born in a family with certain religious beliefs? He shouldn’t. The doctors have an obligation to provide those under the legal age of consent with the most beneficial care, which means giving necessary treatments even if they clash with a child’s religious beliefs.
Denying a child required medical care would be much harder to justify in our society if it were on non-religious grounds. If, when I was 8 years old, my parents refused to let me have a needed blood transfusion simply because they didn’t want me to have it, it would be viewed as irrational and parent negligence. But, if a child is denied that same treatment because his parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is permitted under the law. The decision is also more acceptable in society because the rationale is bolstered by religious ideology. Such thinking should be altered. Religious beliefs have very little grounding, and should not be used to alter how children are treated. In the end, the committee’s ruling provides more benefit than harm. Those above the legal age of consent can still follow their religious beliefs without opposition. Children, however, should not let their parents’ spiritual beliefs shorten or adversely affect the rest of their lives.
Alex Yahanda is a senior associate editor for The Cavalier Daily. His columns run Wednesdays.

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