top of page

Organ Donation/Harvesting

Horrifying Facts About Organ Donation Procedures and U.S. Laws

brain death.png
Dead or Alive?Battle of Ideas 2012
00:00 / 01:04

Battle of Ideas 2012, 21st October, Barbican, London

The Greek philosopher Epicurus said 'as far as death is concerned, we men live in a city without walls'. No doubt it comes as certainly as we pay taxes, but are we so sure what it actually is? Can we put our finger on that dividing line between life and non-life? Seeking moral certainty about the big question is more than philosophical idling. The ethics of organ transplantation are largely based on 'brain death' - the certainty that brain activity is irreversibly over - to allow harvesting of organs from the cadaver while the heart is still beating. But, apart from divergences of scientific opinion as to just what counts as an irreversible loss of consciousness, there is considerable debate about what the ability of the body to survive such a loss might mean for the ethics of organ transplantation. There are cases, after all, in which the brain may be dead but the body survives. Some pregnant women have been declared dead by neurological criteria yet sustained the pregnancy for several weeks. Are we confident in saying that these living bodies are dead? Confident enough to harvest unpaired vital organs from them? Even to presume consent for donation in these cases? And what about cases in which medical opinion is convinced that the brain is going to die but has not yet? Might it ever be ethical to take much-needed organs in such cases or would it conflict with the requirement that doctors act only to save or at least extend life? Might it amount to a disguised form of euthanasia?

Central to this issue of course is just what we mean by being human and how we value autonomy and free will. If the state presumes our consent with respect to organ donation might it simultaneously contribute to an under-valuing of our ability to make free choices and to act altruistically? Is it a way of avoiding the hard arguments necessary to convince potential donors? Might it even lead to stigmatising the choice to opt out? Much of our morality rests on a feeling that we should treat a human as an end, never as a means, certainly not as a bag of spare parts. Who is it that should pronounce on matters of life and death? Do we trust doctors enough to make the decision for us? Medical ethics boards? Public opinion? Philosophers, theologians, politicians? At just what point is it safe to say we can become a means for someone else's ends? At what point does death intervene and you end being an end?


Dr Stuart Derbyshire
reader in psychology, University of Birmingham; associate editor, Psychosomatic Medicine and Pain

Steven Edwards
professor of philosophy of healthcare, Swansea University

Professor David Jones
director, Anscombe Bioethics Centre; co-editor, Chimera's Children: Ethical, Philosophical and Religious Perspectives on Human-Nonhuman Experimentation

Dr Sir Peter Simpson
chairman, UK Donation Ethics Committee

Hugh Whittall
director, Nuffield Council on Bioethics



Helen Birtwistle
PGCE history teacher; former resources and communications manager, Debating Matters Competition


By Paul A. Byrne, M.D.

You’ve probably heard and read a great deal of positive publicity about the benefits of the organ donor program – information which is provided by those in the medical profession deeply involved in the so-called “gift of life”.  But when presenting their information they deliberately leave us believing the donor is already truly dead before the organs are taken. They intentionally omit the in-depth explanation of the necessary procedure a donor must undergo WHILE STILL ALIVE.

“BRAIN DEATH”- The new “Pretend Death” is not True Death

By Paul A. Byrne, M.D.


    Prior to 1968 a person was declared dead only after their breathing and heart stopped for a determinate period of time. The current terminology "Brain Death" was unheard of. When surgeons realized they had the capability of taking organs from one seemingly “close to death” person and implanting them into another person to keep the recipient alive longer, a "Pandora’s Box" was opened.

    In the beginning, through trial and error, they discovered it was not possible to perform this "miraculous" surgery with organs taken from someone truly dead--even if the donor was without circulation for merely a few minutes - because organ damage occurs within a very brief time after circulation stops.      

    To justify their experimental procedures it was necessary for them to come up with a solution which is how the term "Brain Death" was contrived.  To verify the determination of "brain death" they developed more than 30 different sets of criteria to declare “brain death” (DBD) published from 1968–1978. Every new set was less strict than previous sets–now there are many more.  Dear reader, those criteria are flawed.

    Recently we read and heard about the young man in Oklahoma declared "brain dead," but his cousin, a nurse, recognized response during the 4 hours of preparation to take his organs.  The transplant was not done.  This young man is living proof that “brain death” is not true death.  If his organs had been taken, he would have been killed.

    He even attested to being able to hear and understand what was taking place but was unable to speak in his own defense as a result of his brain injury.  Most frighteningly, he could not cry out "STOP!" when it came to the harvesting of his own organs.  IMPORTANT: This is not an isolated case.

    More recently, when there is a desire to get organs while the donor still has obvious brain activity, a Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) is obtained to stop the life support. When the donor is pulseless for as short as 75 seconds (but the heart is still beating) the organs are taken – this is called Donation by Cardiac Death (DCD).  When a heart is taken for transplantation, after about 1 hour of operating, while the heart is beating and blood pressure and circulation are normal, the heart is stopped by the transplant surgeon. Then the surgeon lifts the heart from the donor’s chest.




By Paul A. Byrne, M.D.

Once DBD or DCD has been verified and permission extracted from distraught family members (in cases where relatives cannot be located the government often now makes the determination on our behalf) the "organ donor" undergoes hours, sometimes days, of torturous treatment utilized to protect and preserve the body-container of "spare parts!" The "organ donor" is forced to endure the excruciating painful and ongoing chemical treatment in preparation for organ excising.  Literally the "donor" is now an organ warehouse and used for the sole purpose of organ preservation until a compatible recipient can be located.

The truth of the horrific treatment and DEATH OF THE "DONOR"

    Organ removal is performed while the patient is given only a paralyzing agent but no anesthetic! Multi-organ excision, on the average, takes three to four hours of operating during which time the heart is beating, the blood pressure is normal and respiration is occurring albeit the patient is on a ventilator. Each organ is cut out until finally the beating heart is stopped, a moment before removal.

It is well documented the heart rate and blood pressure go up when the incision is made. This is the very response the anesthesiologist often observes in everyday surgery when the anesthetic is insufficient.  But, as stated above, organ donors are not anesthetized.

    There are growing numbers of protesters among nurses and anesthesiologists, who react strongly to the movements of the supposed "corpse." These movements are sometimes so violent it makes it impossible to continue the taking of organs. Resulting from their personal experiences and attestations, many in the medical profession have removed themselves from this program altogether and/or are having second thoughts about the donor being factually or truly dead.


By Paul A. Byrne, M.D.

The federal government has been deeply involved in promoting vital organ transplantation.  A federal mandate issued in 1998 states that physicians, nurses, chaplains, and other health care workers may not speak to a family of a potential organ donor without first obtaining approval from the regional organ retrieval system. Only a “designated requester” trained to approach family members is allowed to discuss the matter with them.  Why? Because studies show that these "specialists" have greater success in obtaining permission. They are trained to "sell" the concept of organ donation, using emotionally-laden phrases such as "giving the gift of life," "your loved one’s heart will live on in someone else," and other similar platitudes - all empty of true meaning. Don’t forget that the donation and transplant industry is a multibillion dollar enterprise. In 1996, Forbes Magazine ran an informative series on this issue, but as a rule it is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain solid financial data. One thing, however, is clear: donor families do not receive any monetary benefit from their "gift of life."

    In the midst of trauma and shock the anguishing family/loved ones of the patient are subjected to immense pressures by those seeking to obtain approval for taking the organs.  Incapable of making a decision based on factual and sound information, “consent” is obtained through coercive measures. “No hope” for recovery is the first step in this process followed by the false declaration of death—“brain death.”  Relatives are not only persuaded to “consent” and participate in organ donation, but also they are made to feel obligated.  Fully “informed consent” is not part of the organ donation process. 

       The truth of the death of the organ donor, the gruesome facts of which are often not learned until after the procedure has been completed, leaves family members/loved ones isolated in their guilt, pain and horror. So popularized, "the gift of life" campaign has successfully excluded these suffering in their grief and deep remorse of having been deceived. The reality of having been forced to participate in making a decision, of which they were not fully informed or physically, mentally or emotionally capable, leaves the deceased’s  family with the incredible burden of having given permission for something which they accepted as only good, but discovered too late that if the donor had been truly dead the heart and liver would not have been suitable for transplantation. Some cannot be consoled and are immersed in deep depression ever seeking to escape their intense heartache as the mere thought of the tortuous death of their loved one continuously haunts them. Left in utter despair, and complete solitude and chaos, peace is not found in the death of their loved one!  Few are offered the compassion and counsel necessary as "the gift of life" is not revealed for what it really is, thus no counsel is available to them.

LIFE GUARDIAN FOUNDATION is an organization that began with mothers who had experienced the heartbreak of having been deceived and having lost their children. They wish to warn others by sharing their own suffering and knowledge gained thereof, offering others hope of the blessings of restored health and the continuation of life.
The website is:

bottom of page