Do people with schizophrenia deserve organs?

I was scrolling down on Tumblr and I found this post, which is crazy that people (doctors) who should save all lives, they judge a mental ill person if he deserve to live or not, because he wasn’t employed :O Read the text below and let me know in a comment what do you think about this

“Like most people working in the field of mental health, I am well aware of the stigma associated with schizophrenia as well as the appalling 15-20 year reduction in life expectancy that people with this diagnosis face (e.g., Laursen, 2011; Hennekens et al., 2005). However, I was still taken aback by an issue raised by a recent paper by Okayasu and colleagues.

The paper reports on a 35-year-old man diagnosed with schizophrenia who had severely damaged lungs, due to swallowing detergent powder during a psychotic episode (aged 22), and was now in need of a lung transplant. His psychotic symptoms were controlled by antipsychotic medication, and he was living as an outpatient and adhering to his medication.

What troubled me in the paper were the issues arising in the debate by the Lung Transplantation Committee regarding whether or not to allow this man a lung transplant, and the reasons given by those who were opposed to the transplant. Here are some quotes from the paper:

“Those who opposed lung transplantation to the patient questioned whether this was the most appropriate use of an invaluable medical resource, namely, the lungs of a brain-dead donor”

The clear implication here is that there is a more ‘appropriate use’ for the transplantable lungs than giving them to a person with a diagnosis of schizophrenia even when they meet potential criteria of having their symptoms under control and adhering to medication. The question then is why might the Transplantation Committee think someone may be more ‘appropriate’? The answer to this appears in a further quotation:

“The patient had never been employed, and finding a job would not be expected after transplantation, and thus, a lung transplant to the patient would make only a minor social contribution”.

Leaving to one side the huge issue about organs being allocated according to who can make the greatest social contribution, and moving beyond this specific case, this quote raises a more general worry that that a person diagnosed with schizophrenia may be judged by a Transplant Committee as being unlikely to work again, just because they have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Although a recent study found 73% of people with schizophrenia had no employment activity, a substantial number clearly do. I personally know plenty of people who have received a diagnosis of schizophrenia and have gone on to make huge contributions to society, in particular through their advocacy and training work. Furthermore, when we consider that reasons why many people with schizophrenia cannot find employment is due to stigma, prejudice and a lack of help, is it then fair to deny them organ transplants when society plays a role in preventing them from getting a job in the first place? Furthermore, do we really think that just because a person with schizophrenia doesn’t have a job that they are making no useful contribution to society? Undertaking voluntary work, raising a family, being a parent, son, daughter or friend, for example, are all important contributions to society.

Another reason given for not considering organ transplant for the patient was:

“If the patient was to commit suicide following worsening of psychiatric symptoms, a precious medical resource would be wasted”.

There are numerous problems with the quote above. A general point can be made that this quote suggests that if a person with schizophrenia has just killed themselves then the main concern is not this tragic waste of an inherently precious human life, but that fact that a ‘precious medical resource’ has been wasted.”

Source: http://zyprexaofficial.tumblr.com/


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2 thoughts on “Do people with schizophrenia deserve organs?

  1. This kind of discrimination is awful and so much more needs to be done in terms of dispelling stigmas-which is what you’re doing, so good on you. People who suffer from schizophrenia are ill and need help, just like so many others in society. And as you said, if they get specialist treatments, it does not have to be a “death sentence” disease x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was scrolling down my tumblr dashboard and I saw this and I have to repost it here to share it with the world. I never heard about this debate if a mentally ill person deserves to live or die just because he wasn’t employed . That’s stupid! Something have to change, we are going the wrong way

      Like

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