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Did Hospital Kill Teen for His Organs?

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An Ohio couple whose teenage son was injured in a snowboarding accident has filed suit, claiming doctors harvested his organs before he was declared dead.

Gregory Jacobs

18-year-old Gregory Jacobs, of Bellevue, Ohio, suffered a "closed head injury" two years ago while snowboarding on a high school-sponsored ski trip.

He was airlifted to Hamot Medical Center in northwestern Pennsylvania, where he died.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, claims doctors and a representative of The Center Organ Recovery & Education (CORE), caused Gregory's death by giving the teen drugs and removing his breathing tube.

Parent Michael and Teresa Jacobs also claim their son had not yet been formally declared brain dead when surgeons began the transplant procedure.

Appearing on the CBS Early Show Monday, Jacobs mother said "The records indicated that they started harvesting procedures including the incision when he was alive. And he was not even pronounced dead until 29 minutes later. That's pretty shocking."

Their attorney said, "Our experts are telling us that, had his organs not been taken, he may very well have survived and recovered from this accident," adding, "Even the hospital's own records show that he had brain stem function minutes before he was taken to the operating room to have his organs removed. He never met the criteria for brain dead. And, in fact, he never was dead or brain dead."

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In response to the suit, the hospital says, "The care that Gregory received throughout his course of treatment at Hamot following the severe head trauma he sustained was timely, appropriate and well-documented. Proper consent was received in order for his organs to be donated and the protocols that were followed were consistent with all established donation procedures. Any claims otherwise are completely baseless. ... We will vigorously defend against any accusations of wrongdoing." For their part, CORE says, "As in all donation cases, CORE followed all regulated medical protocols in the case of the Gregory Jacobs. The allegations against CORE are baseless and untrue."

So how did this happen? Michael Jacobs says "They tell you that your son's brain dead and that his organs can be used for children. It's a process that they use to convince you. When you feel there's no hope or you're told that there's just absolutely no hope and that he will be dead in so many hours, you know, I decided to sign the paper for organ donation."

Asked what message he has for other parents who may find themselves in that situation, Michael said simply, "Don't do it. No one -- I found this out after OKing that -- no human on Earth has the right to tell someone else they can take somebody's organs. No piece of paper should ever be allowed. If that person isn't a donor, isn't signed up to be a donor, there should be no question about it."

According to their website, CORE says as a donor "everything to try to save your life" and that they are "not notified until all life-saving efforts have failed."

Does this make you rethink organ donation? Or is the grief-ridden family mistaken?




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48 comments so far | Post a comment now
heather March 27, 2009, 4:08 PM

My son had tumefactive MS. He was imprisoned at the Toronto Western Hospital after he tried to leave because he realized something was wrong with the hospital’s attitude towards him. After he was brought back, he was sedated and intentionally made to worsen. What he didn’t know was that he had been profiled and presumed to be a donor because he was white and college educated. This demographic falls for the donation myth more than anyone else. We, his family were not called even though he asked and asked. Eventually he had a status epilepticus seizure and became unconscious. Then his family was called because he couldnt tell anyone what had happened to him. He died a terrible death because he was left with a swelling brain (ICP) which can be easily controlled in a hospital setting if the will is there. This was all concealed by a doctor known as Dr Richard Wennberg and his residents. One of them was a kidney transplant resident. Hospitals are presuming donors by their religion (or lack of it) as well as their culture (or lack of it.) They are targeting people who are compelled to be politically correct and socially responsible in order to look cool. Do NOT give your organs EVER. It is a bad idea and a crime. You are creating a stereotype so that people who look like you are being gambled with as likely donors if they become unconscious and look dead. People who get transplants don’t generally add more than 2 years to their lives (this is the average.) Look up everything about this cruel practice. Lots of the stuff you will find is syrupy garbage but look for the facts. Organ donation kills the person. There is no such thing as brain death. When the brain dies the body dies. There is only brain damage. This is where the medical industry is getting to people. In this world where perfect looks are promised with this product or that procedure, people fear the “ugliness” of brain damage so they think their family member is “better off dead.” This is not true. The aim of governments and the medical industry is to kill the brain-damaged because they cost a lot to rehabilitate. Also, there isn’t as much profit turnover happening as there is with transplantation.

James March 27, 2009, 8:34 PM

As a physician, its sad to see what a profound effect media and lawsuits can have on the general public. Libby is actually correct. The doctor prounouncing a brain death cannot be a part of the transplant team. It sounds like a grieving family is regretting their decision of giving up on their son when all hope had already been lost. What really disappointed me was the comment that no piece of paper should authorize organ donation…it should only be those already signed up before death. Well congrats, you’ve just eliminated 99% of donors. Go tell your loved one what you want us to do when you are on the table. It will make our job tremendously easier. Try to imagine next time we are leaving our families in the middle of the night to try to save someone you love…greed? Please. Those that want to rush to stop being donors simply based on that article alone are in desparate need of a brain transplant…and I’ll do it for free.

Emily March 29, 2009, 11:03 PM

Heather, it sounds like you would really benefit from suing the entire medical and healthcare industry for prolonging lives by a meaningless 2 years. I agree doctors should really stop conspiring with entire healthcare teams to stop sedating people and stealing their organs. I think they should be named in your lawsuit…and sue the donor recipients, they’re obviously in an arrangement with the doctors. The only part of your post that gave me some reassurance is that you’re Canadian. I was beginning to think it was only Americans who were uneducated and irrational.

heather March 30, 2009, 6:03 AM

Thank you, Emily, for agreeing with me. I hope that doesn’t make you uneducated and irrational as well!

renee March 31, 2009, 9:43 AM

if we were like other countries,holland a being on the top of my head,and everyone who takes one breath of life is a donor,there would not be situations like this.and they usually take ur organs when u are still alive,it is so the organs are more viable.

Anonymous March 31, 2009, 4:50 PM

The AAMC has clear definition of what defines death: “An individual who has sustained either (1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain is dead.” Organs are not taken from living people…brain death = death. Heather, you are smoking some seriously bad stuff. When blood flow ceases to the brain, guess what…tissue dies. When enough of it dies, you do not recover function. I’m pretty sure doctors spend a decade or two studying the science of medicine and your “qualified” opinion falls somewhere between insane and delusional. You say it costs too much money to keep these people alive. With cardiac bypass and a respiratory ventilator, you could keep essentially every heart attack, stroke, gunshot, or anything else you think of “alive”. The kid in this article had brain injury 2 years before this incident. You think all of this happened in less than 24 hours? I really feel pretty sorry for you…almost as much as the doctors that will care for you when you get sick.

heather March 31, 2009, 8:27 PM

SAY this with me Anonymous:

Life support is for people who are dead but for the life support. Life support replaces the brain so that the body which should also be dead, isn’t. 100 years ago, this body and brain would be dead because there was no machine. See?

Now, a ventilator can also be used for a brain which is not DEAD but simply shocked and dazed and needs some temporary help to reorientate. This brain is not dead and will recover its function in time.

Greg Jacobs was on a ventilator to help him rest. His brain was not dead and was not being REPLACED to keep his body going simply because machines exist in 2009.

Your language is rude. And you are achieving this without smoking anything! So what’s your excuse?

Anonymous April 1, 2009, 7:51 AM

A vent is not a brain. It does not help you think, come to conclusions, function in any way other than blowing air into your lungs and pulling it out. It does not tell your extremities to move. Nothing “replaces a brain”. You say that it is simply “giving him time to rest”. We have things call EEGs, ability to test one’s reflexes, and imaging modalities which can allow radiologists to visualize dead versus viable tissue. We are not lizards, you can’t kill half your brain and “give it time” to regrow. Unfortunately, “shocked and dazed” are not medically recognized terms. I suspect that is because you have absolutely no formal medical training. I also find it somewhat curious that you state information pertaining to this case as if you were one of the physicians caring for him. You state his brain “will recover its function in time”. Either you’re one of the most brilliant medical minds in the business or you’re smoking something. My language is rude because you are touting your opinion based on no medical science or education and they seemed chiefly based on personal experience that is breeding some hatred towards a practice that prolongs thousands of lives each year. Looking at some of the other posts, it seems I’m not the only one who thinks your opinion is less than accurate.

heather April 1, 2009, 2:59 PM

It is my opinion that your medical comments are correct.

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