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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."


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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Mary Ann Kreitzer March 17, 2011, 12:48 PM

Organ donation is fine if you are, for example, taking the corneas from a cadaver. Unfortunately, essential organs like lungs and heart are useless if the patient is really dead. You need a person who is breathing and has circulation so the organs stay “fresh.”

So what did the medical establishment do? They redefined death to make sure they would have a supply of living subjects as donors. Often, vulnerable family members will be given the grimmest picture of the patient’s condition and ability to survive and then they are badgered and badgered to donate his organs. The hospitals make big bucks off of organ donation surgeries and there are long waiting lists. Frankly, I would rather die than cooperate in the deliberate killing of someone to get his organs. No matter how good the intentions of those involved some actions are too immoral to participate in them. None of us is getting out of this life alive and I would not compromise my own salvation by helping kill someone else to save my life.

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