There are going to be no winners in this case of doctors thinking they know better!
Back in the ’70s and ’80s when other medical injustices were being carried out doctors caring for sick babies were also taking the hearts from those that died for future medical research. The problem was that it was without consent.
We suffer enormously in this country because when an organ donor dies the grieving family invariably vetoes the donation. If they will act against the wishes of a family member how can they be expected to OK the donation of organs from a child who has had no opportunity to crawl, let alone consent?
So, the doctors took the hearts. It was well meaning but in doing so, and in not telling the families, and in lying to those who asked, they committed great errors. Back in 2002 the hospital started returning the hearts. Science has moved on, pickled hearts aren’t necessary anymore. What a shock for the families concerned.
Some are now suing the hospital and asking for $90,000 in compensation. You can’t put a value on the hurt but nor should you! I can’t see that the money would be anything but “dirty money”, never enough, but tinged with such sadness. How on earth could you spend it without feeling like you’d sold something.
I have a personal perspective on this. Back in the early ’70s my little brother James was born. The obstetrician botched his birth. He wasn’t stillborn but he died being born and his ashes are buried with his paternal grandparents. The hurt and pain, three decades later, still swirl around the family and today we would have groups like SANDS (info on this list) to guide our way.
My mother, my sisters, and I talked about how we’d feel if James’ heart was in the “library” and agreed that it would feel good if he had been able to help the doctors help other children. His short life would feel less like a waste and we would have a link with the unknown children that followed, who lived because the Doctors knew that little bit more. So we made the phone calls, they made the investigations and we heard back that “No, they didn’t have his heart”.
There’s a certain irony that they took hearts from families that have since objected and not from those who would have willingly. Ofcourse, at the time we’ll never know what any of these families might have said, but experience tells me they’d have said No. And then where would be today if the Doctors hadn’t learnt?