27 May 2008

Organs On Ice Comes to New York

No, its not the name of the new Disney touring ice show.

"New York City is working on a plan to deploy a special ambulance to collect the bodies of people who have died suddenly from heart attacks, accidents and other emergencies and try to preserve their organs. If the "rapid-organ-recovery ambulance" succeeds, officials would like to expand the unique pilot program citywide with a fleet of ambulances and eventually duplicate it in other cities. "
This gives new meaning to "meat wagon". Then again the only people I know who still refer to an ambulance as a "meat wagon" are easily 105 years old.

"Once all hope for resuscitation was gone, and as long as no family members objected, the victims' bodies would be transferred to the organ ambulance team, even if the victims' willingness to be organ donors was unclear. The crew could then perform measures on the body to prevent the organs from deteriorating, including chest compressions with an automated device and pumping oxygen into the lungs through a tracheal tube to keep blood and oxygen flowing. The crew might also administer the blood-thinning drug heparin to prevent clots while speeding to Bellevue. At the hospital, doctors could take additional steps, such as inserting a plastic tube known as a cannula into an artery, usually in the groin, to infuse the body with fluids to cool and preserve the organs. Organ bank workers would then assess whether the person was a suitable donor, determine whether they had an organ donor card or were listed on an organ donor registry, and try to locate a family member to give consent. "

"Currently, New York City paramedics try for about 30 minutes to revive patients whose hearts have stopped before declaring them dead, while a doctor monitors their efforts remotely. The bodies are then taken to a funeral home, morgue or medical examiner's office."

Rob Stein of the Washington Post

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