I was just reading over the terms and conditions to my replacement drivers license that arrived in the mail, and at the end was the usual organ donor form, should I so chose to fill it out.

It got me to realise, I really don't know where I stand on donating organs. It's not that I don't want someone to have my organs once I'm dead... it's that back in school in the cadaver lab, we were warned that it takes a while for the brain to completely deplete itself of energy... IE, some cadavers may respond to a scalpel through residual chemical energy left over in the form of an automatic response.

This un-nerves me. To me, it suggests that the conscious mind may also still be active in some way. Given that organ donations have to be removed rather quickly after declaration of death... the idea of my body being shut down, but having some residual consciousness left while they cut my organs out kinda gives me the creeps.

If it weren't for how quickly they harvest the organs after death, I'd have no issue with it. I'm not around any more, I'm long gone, my organs are no longer mine....

...but the quick nature of the organ harvest disturbs me.

The point of all this is...
What are my fellow atheists views on organ donation?

Tags: donor, harvest, organ

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I have to admit it creeped me out at first, but as you read on it's actually quite intresting. I would love to visit someday.
Larry I don't want to reduce your passage here. You show a compassion for people that is something to be honored.

However I suspect you might be mistaking casual coincidence, with some objective data.

You are relating a personal experience, one in which some tragedy had just happened. It is not unusual for people in times of duress to experience sympathy pains and the like. I suspect you are connecting a hit and ignoring the misses. I understand that you are talking about a specific targeted pain experience as well, but a result of 1 or 2 or 3 is a very small sample size to have any real empirical relevance.

All that said, I don't believe that my passing or the dissection of my body would cause any of my family and related pain, besides the obviousness resulting pain of my passing. Even if neurons fired randomly, any cognitive ability is long gone. As much as we are connected as humans I don't think that we can effect each other beyond the physical world.

Organ harvesting is only considered if they know that there is no possibility of recovery. One usually isn't in the position to actually make the final decision, so it is left up to the next of kin. So yes the choice isn't ours beyond the fact that the decision to sign the card in the first place. I hope my family honors my wishes.

As someone said below, organ donation is not a requirement by societal standards and nor should it be. It is a choice, and you should feel comfortable with the decision that best suites you. Fear of what happens, and what if around death is something everyone seems to strikes a balance with in their own way.
To answer your question I am an organ donor because 1. I think that it would help people, and I have no use for them once I'm gone, and 2. Once you're brain dead, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to feel pain.

I have worked in a lab neighboring another lab in which the researchers needed to decapitate mice for their scientific endeavors (unusual, but useful if you need to harvest the brain extremely quickly). The bodies did jerk for a few minutes post-decapitation. However, there is no way those mice felt anything, as their brains were severed from the body and would not have been able to process any pain signals they received.

IOW, post-death electrical signals do not necessarily originate in the brain, and reflexive movement doesn't necessarily correlate with brain activity.

All this with one caveat: I feel it is extremely important to make such a personal decision based on what you feel will make you comfortable in your final moments. For whatever reason (even if others think it's a silly one), if you feel squeamish about organ donation...... Don't do it=)
Donating your organs is, I think, a great thing to do. You won't need them anymore, plus, you'll be helping people in need.
Though what you describe does sound disturbing, if you were aware of what was happening to your body you would also be aware that your heart has stopped, your lungs no longer function, and your brain is dying. What's losing a few organs on top of that?

I'd want to enjoy my last moments of awareness no matter what's going on around me. "Oooh, neat, there goes my liver! Lucky bastard."
Now this is a good rely. I've seen it hinted at, but you put it bluntly... if there was some residual consciousness, you'd already be so aware of your body dying and everything shutting down, that organs being removed would be such a trivial matter.

And, as some have hinted, the body would no longer be able to send proper signals to the brain. So whatever the brain does receive, if anything, would be so convoluted or barely noticeable that it wouldn't really matter.


And to those who implied, I already know my organs are useless to me on my death bed, and that I'm doing the right thing by giving it to someone who needs it, my only concern is that we don't quite know everything about consciousness, and my last remaining seconds alive would be the only thing I have left... I didn't want them to be spent in fear and pain.

... which is folly... if I'm an organ donor, chances are it's because I just spent my last few seconds in fear and pain.
Sydni, thank you so much for sharing your story. I am sorry for your loss. Hopefully it will help those struggling with the very personal question of whether to be an organ donor or not. I personally am an organ donor and hope I will be able to help people like your husband when my turn in the driver's seat is done.
But if they hadn't been sent for organ donation it might not have been noticed they were alive (presumably if you get to the stage where doctors declare you dead, you're in a pretty bad state so left alone you would die anyway or worst case be buried/cremated alive)
I've always figured that if I've got any organs that aren't utterly destroyed by the end of my life, I didn't have nearly enough fun. But yeah, I've always been a donor. If they can find anything worth having, they're welcome to it.

Re: the brain possibly comprehending what's happening to it: If I'm mangled enough they're hacking my liver out, even if I can register it, I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be more worried about the mangled thing than the liver. Could you put it in writing that you're willing to donate, but only if they sever or smash your head in first? Tell them "You don't have to go to a lot of trouble, just five or six good whacks with a hammer would make me feel better.".
If your family isn't concerned with the legality of what you're intending, they can sell your organs. That it's illegal is absurd.
I told my husband that he should find a way to profit from my death, sell my parts off to the highest bidders. (I mean arms and legs, and left-over parts.) He looked at me like I grew a second head... But I feel that should be an option for people. There are "stories" of funeral home attendants selling parts of dead people to medical outfits, but it should be allowed personally, to benefit the families.

As far as organ donation profit, I don't think so. They should go to the person that needs them. No profit, no guilt.
Hmm. I wonder how much your husband could get for the second head.

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