Teen Dispirit

Letters from the week of April 1016, 2003

 Teenage Wasteland
Gone but not forgotten: Hooray for Amy Silverman! Hooray for New Times!! Someone has finally noticed that another youth has died in the hands of ADJC ("Suicide Watch," April 3). The AZ Repugnant found this boy's life to be too insignificant to take up more than three inches under "briefs." Yes, Roy Roman Jr.'s life was way too brief, thanks to Adobe Mountain, but our memories should not be. Could you please not publish my name? I am a teacher at Adobe Mountain and will be fired for stating my views in the media.

Name withheld by request

Suicide squeeze: There definitely needs to be more attention to this subject. Our nation treats suicide as a sort of taboo, and that is wrong. This problem will not just go away. These poor kids need our help.

Holli Walker
Via e-mail

Organ Trail
Donor party: This is a response to the cover article "Lost Hearts," about the Donor Network of Arizona (Amy Silverman, March 27). I am a paid medical ethics consultant for Donor Network of Arizona, whom I have been working with since July 2001. However, the views I am expressing here are entirely my own.

You portray Dr. Arnie Serota's firing as retribution for his willingness to uncover problems at DNA and save lives. To fit this picture, you portray the other professionals of DNA as either incompetent or self-interestedly getting rid of Dr. Serota because they didn't want him fixing the system. This is simply untrue and irresponsible. Your article amounts to no more than a broad attack on DNA premised on the unsupported allegations of a disgruntled former employee.

The case of the physician who erroneously declared a Verde Valley patient brain-dead, and the "overzealous organ recovery coordinator who wanted to act too quickly." The implication is that organs were almost retrieved prior to the patient being dead. Aside from the fact that the account is being presented based solely on Dr. Serota's word, it still fails to show a breakdown in the DNA system. No one from DNA was at the hospital, let alone demanding that organs be removed, so there was no risk of premature retrieval. Also, the organ retrieval coordinator followed the directions of the medical director and did not proceed to the hospital. The case is presented simply to scare the public by preying on the common fear that organs will be taken prematurely.

Dr. Serota and the author also present a case where consent for organ donation had been given and then was rescinded while Dr. Serota was preparing to remove the organs. Upon being informed by the organ recovery coordinator that consent had been withdrawn, Dr. Serota "told her it was too late, that consent had already been given." The coordinator then attempted to stop Dr. Serota from going forward with the organ retrieval. Although it's not clear, it appears that the implication of this case is supposed to be that the coordinator was prepared to waste valuable organs that could have saved lives. In fact, the coordinator was stopping Dr. Serota from violating the legal and ethical rights of the family to withdraw consent for the donation. Consenting to donation is something that people can change their mind about prior to the organs being removed, and Dr. Serota was wrong to attempt to remove the organs once consent had been rescinded.

These two cases are merely illustrative of the general slant of the article. While it is true that organ donation and retrieval in the state of Arizona need to improve, there are numerous reasons for this. It is simply bad reporting to portray the situation as unfairly and inaccurately as this article did.

As someone with a healthy general distrust of powerful organizations and a commitment to the ethical practice of all aspects of health care, I am completely comfortable asserting that DNA takes its ethical responsibility to donors, families, patients, and the community it serves extremely seriously. Your article irresponsibly challenges this, and in so doing creates the sort of unfounded fear that causes people to refuse organ donation. The article claims that "Arizona's organ donations are in trouble for a reason." Unfortunately, the author fails to look deeply enough for the truth and settles on being part of the problem.

Greg Loeben
Phoenix

Gun Site
Peace offering: The gunpolicycenter.com and VPC Web sites have now been taken down ("Giving Peace No Chance," Susy Buchanan, April 3). Your article presumably caused the authors too much embarrassment or paranoia. Thank you for publishing this story!

Lee Einer
Phoenix

 
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