Hilary White

One in five ‘brain dead’ patients still alive, claims lawsuit

Hilary White
Hilary White
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NEW YORK, October 1, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – At least one in five patients declared “brain dead” and approved as “organ donors” by one organ donation organisation, are in fact still alive and are being killed by the removal of vital organs, a lawsuit filed last week in Manhattan alleges. The suit outlines the ghoulish worst-case scenario, one that was widely dismissed as scaremongering in the early days of the development of organ transplant technology, but which is getting a second hearing amidst growing concerns that coercion and abuse are becoming increasingly common in the highly lucrative transplant business.

Patrick McMahon, a nurse practitioner and Air Force combat veteran, launched the suit in New York alleging that a major organ donation group is using a quota system for obtaining viable organs. He says it is applying pressure on families and doctors to declare patients dead who are, in fact, still alive and could recover.

The New York Organ Donor Network, McMahon says, even hires “coaches” to help obtain consent “notes”. These coaches, the suit contends, are nothing more than sales and marketing experts who teach transplant coordinators to use high-pressure psychological tactics to play on the emotions of vulnerable family members. The suit alleges that employees who failed to make their quotas were fired.

“You’re not there for grief counselling,” he told the Daily Mail, “you’re there to get organs. It’s all about sales—and that’s pretty much a direct quote from the organisation. Counsellors are required to get a 30 per cent consent rate from families.” The top “counsellors” get a Christmas bonus, he added.

McMahon’s suit cites one case in which a 19-year-old car crash victim was struggling to breathe and showing signs of brain activity, but doctors signed off on the “donation.” The suit alleges that Network director, Michael Goldstein, “bullied” staff at the Nassau University Medical Center. It quotes him telling a conference call, “This kid is dead, you got that?”

“I have been in Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan in combat. I worked on massive brain injuries, trauma, gunshot wounds, IEDs. I have seen worse cases than this and the victims recover,” McMahon told the Washington Post.

McMahon was an employee of the Organ Donor Network, but was fired shortly after bringing his concerns to the attention of the CEO. The suit was filed on September 25 in Manhattan Supreme Court and says that on November 4 last year, McMahon spoke with Helen Irving, the president and CEO of the Organ Donor Network. He told her that, “one in five patients declared brain dead show signs of brain activity” when the official notice of brain death is issued.

The suit quotes Irving replying, “This is how things are done.”

The Washington Post quoted Organ Donor Network’s spokesman Julia Rivera saying that though she had not seen the documents, claims of a quota system are “ridiculous.” “There are no quotas.”

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McMahon’s suit accuses the Network of “wrongful and illegal practices.” McMahon was fired from his position as a transplant coordinator on November 15th, just days after his alleged conversation with Helen Irving. The stated reason, he was told by the Network, was failure to properly satisfy job requirements and inefficiency, accusations he calls “ridiculous” and “totally false.”

“It’s atrocious what’s going on,” McMahon told Staten Island Live. “These individuals that aren’t brain dead can’t speak for themselves. The family members aren’t experts. I’m trying to stop [the network] from doing this,” he said. 

The suit alleges that in another case a man admitted to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn was also showing signs of brain activity, but though McMahon protested, the man was declared brain dead and his organs were removed. In a third case cited, a woman was declared brain dead after being admitted to Staten Island University Hospital for a drug overdose. McMahon says when she was having her organs removed, he noticed she was being administered a “paralyzing anesthetic” drug to stop her body from jerking on the operating table.

He told the Daily Mail, “She was having brain function when they were cutting into her on the table. He had given her a paralyser and there’s no reason to give someone who is dead a paralyser.”

On being confronted, the hospital staffer administering the drug told McMahon that he had been told to do it because she was moving as her chest was being cut open. “A paralyser only paralyses you, it does nothing for the pain,” McMahon told the Mail.

In that case, McMahon said, surgeons “took everything”. “They took her eyes, her joints. She was right there when I was having the conversation. They were inserting the plastic bones where the real ones had been.”

In response to McMahon’s protests, Network staff told the hospital he was “an untrained troublemaker with a history of raising frivolous issues and questions.”

“Despite these facts, over [McMahon’s] vehement objections, NYODN continued to process the female patient and allowed the life-ending surgery to go forward,” the court documents say. “NYODN’s actions are the direct cause for the female patient’s premature death.”

Ethicists continue to warn that money, not altruism, is the driving force behind organ transplants that have become a multi-billion dollar, global industry. In 2008, after the Vatican’s own Pontifical Academy for Life co-sponsored a high-profile international conference on organ transplantation, many in the pro-life community protested that no mention was made by any speaker of the ethical concerns over coercion or death criteria.

But after the vociferous international outcry, Pope Benedict XVI himself issued a stern warning in his address to the conference attendees, saying that the primary concern must be that organ transplantation does not devolve into a choice of one life over another.  “Informed consent is the precondition of freedom, so that the transplant has the characteristic of a gift and cannot be interpreted as an act of coercion or exploitation,” the pope said. The medical community must reject the illicit trade in organs “which often affect innocent people such as children” and the “utilitarian criteria” for donation. These must be, he said, “strongly condemned as abominable.”

In 2008, the New England Journal of Medicine printed an article that frankly argued that “brain death” is a sham. The article, co-authored by Dr. Robert D. Truog, a professor of medical ethics and anesthesia (pediatrics) in the Departments of Anesthesia and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said the scientific literature does not support the criteria for ‘brain death’ and ‘cardiac death’ as being real death. “Although it may be ethical to remove vital organs from these patients, we believe that the reason it is ethical cannot convincingly be that the donors are dead,” the article said.

So open has the “brain death” secret become in medical circles that some are urging that such criteria simply be dropped. Dr. Neil Lazar, director of the medical-surgical intensive care unit at Toronto General Hospital, Dr. Maxwell J. Smith of the University of Toronto, and David Rodriguez-Arias of Universidad del Pais Vasco in Spain, admitted at a major conference that the pretense should be ended and that organs should be allowed to be removed from “dying” or “severely injured” patients. This more “honest” approach, they said, would avoid the problems created by purely ideological definitions of death that are known to be mere pretexts to expand the organ donor pool.

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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