Ambulances to Save the Dead

Breitbart.com revealed that a select group of New York City paramedics may soon have a different kind of task:  saving the dead.  The city is considering creating a special ambulance whose crew would rush to collect the newly deceased and preserve the body so that the organs might be taken for transplant.  Top medical officials in the NYC Fire Department and Bellevue Hospital say it has the potential to save hundreds of lives.

Generally in the United States, only people who die at hospitals are used as organ donors, because doctors are on hand with life-support machinery to preserve the organs and remove them before they are unusable (which can happen after only a few critical hours).

The new transplant ambulance would ideally turn up at the scene of a death minutes after regular paramedics ceased efforts to resuscitate a patient.  They would have to wait for 5 minutes after a formal declaration of death, but then the team would begin work immediately, administering drugs and performing chest compressions intended to keep the organs viable. 

Some of these steps may be taken before getting approval from a relative and without knowledge of the deceased’s wishes regarding organ donation, but any organ removals would only be done at a hospital.  And no organs would be removed without getting the family’s express consent. 

U.S. opinion surveys routinely show that a majority of Americans are willing to donate their organs.  An estimated 22,000 people die at home each year in the United States, and several hundred people die every month waiting for organs.  This seems like a worthy pilot project.