Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Dead or Alive

In my 16 September 2016 blog, I made an assumption, a fatal assumption. I was dead wrong. I should have listened to that tiny little voice in the back of my mind that asked me to check my assumption. I ignored that hunch as I just couldn’t imagine that my assumption would be incorrect. It was beyond my belief. Subsequently, I registered my “NO” at the Dutch donor register.

Yesterday, I discussed my “NO” with my mother (1934). Again I assumed she was a “YES” and again I was wrong. She is a “NO”. She told me that she was aware of that information for many, many years. Her statement made me wonder whether I have been living in some kind of a cave, denied of relevant information. Still, I don’t consider myself as ignorant. So, what went wrong?

The most simple answer is that I just didn’t want to know – the ostrich approach in view of danger. Another possibility is that the information didn’t feel relevant to me as I felt young and “immortal”. Another viable possibility is that this topic is a taboo. It’s not a taboo in the medical field according to my mother. She claims that organ donation is even the subject of medical jokes.

The registering of my “NO” was a protest, and possibly an emotional overreaction as I felt betrayed. This information is not part of the public debate about donor registration. Revealing this information may shock people and is likely to give more “NOs” – like mine. Revealing this information is also a Machiavellian approach: the end justifies the means.

This proverb from Machiavelli‘s The Prince implies that “morally wrong actions are sometimes necessary to achieve morally right outcomes; actions can only be considered morally right or wrong by virtue of the morality of the outcome” (Wiki).

The above also reminds me of a John le Carré quote: “Love is whatever you can still betray. Betrayal can only happen if you love”. The intensity of the organ donation debate makes me think, feel and believe that emotion (eg, love) has won from ratio and that beliefs won from facts.

The medical definition of death is different from people like you and me. We would say: if a heart is still beating then the person is alive, and also when a person still feels pain then the person is still alive. Let me be very blunt now: when people are considered to be “brain dead” and the heart is still beating then organ donation may and will commence and even without anesthesia. This information came with total disbelief to me. As President Ronald Reagan once said: Trust but verify.

For days, I have been considering whether or not to write this blog and also in which language – Dutch or English. Given the large number of countries that use a “Yes unless” organ donation principle, I have decided to aim for the largest possible audience. I am not against human organ donation. I just hate being lied to. Especially when politicians try to change a very sensitive, voluntary, and very personal choice into semi-mandatory legislation.

Dead or Alive – You spin me round (like a record) – 1985 – artists, lyrics, video, Wiki


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