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Ask the Patriarch 171
Medical Issues

from: Mandy

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I am a registered nurse and have been reading some of your worldviews and beliefs on your site. I just have a couple of questions.

What are your views on pain management? Do you believe in taking medicine for chronic pain and suffering?

What do you think about organ donation?

The Patriarch replies:


I am all in favor of pain management through medication. With bad knees and an active lifestyle, I have been using various levels of medication for over 40 years. Managing my pain through drugs has enabled me to enjoy life.

There are those who view the ability to endure pain as a virtue. This ability is certainly beneficial when the option of pain relief is not available, and this has been the case throughout most of human existence. And perhaps treating it as a virtue made enduring pain easier. However, just because pain can be endured does not mean it should be endured when alternatives are available.

Unfortunately, some medications which will help some get through pain are not available because of fears of their addictive properties. I think these legal restrictions need to be lifted. Heroin, opium and marijuana (as three examples) should be legally available to those in need.. Heroin, in particular, has been proven to be effective in pain relief for those dying of certain forms of cancer. Addiction is not an issue in these cases. Dying with dignity and with an alert mind in the final days is what is important.

Organ donation was your second question. I think there are so many potential moral issues with organ transplants, that I could write a book. Let's just deal with the basic scenario - removal of one or more viable organs from a dead body and using them to replace diseased organs in a living person, thereby restoring health. I see nothing wrong with this.

A few caveats.

The person whose body is used as a source should have been willing. Some people do not believe in organ transplants, they should not go to their deaths expecting that their beliefs will be violated.

The person should indeed be dead. Changes in the medical definition of death have been driven in part to ensure transplanted organs are fresh. There is a line, however, which should not be crossed.

Those who have indicated they are not willing to have their organs used for transplants should be equally unwilling to receive organ transplants, even to save their life.

Regardless of your personal need, it is wrong to travel to a country with a questionable judicial system to get a transplant from an executed prisoner.