A whistleblower has accused the New York Organ Donor Network of pressuring hospital employees to declare patients brain dead so that their organs can be harvested. Patrick McMahon, 50, a nurse practitioner, claims that he was fired as a transplant coordinator after just four months for questioning decisions. He has filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court which gives four examples of premature declarations of brain death.
These allegations, which appeared in the New York Post, should be treated with caution, but they do illustrate potential problems with the system. Mr McMahon claims that he was once called “an untrained troublemaker with a history of raising frivolous issues and questions” when he objected to some of the procedures.
He also alleges that the non-profit Network, which is the second largest organ procurement organisation in the US, trained its staff about how to be more successful in persuading grieving relatives to sign consent forms for organs to be removed. The pitches were based on the demographic profiles of the families. Even more sensational was Mr McMahon’s claim that the Network pushed employees to fill quotas of organs. The Network has called this “ridiculous”.
According to papers filed by Mr McMahon’s lawyers, he told the CEO of the network that, “one in five patients declared brain dead show signs of brain activity at the time the Note is issued.” She allegedly replied: “This is how things are done.”