Human Exceptionalism

Organ Surgeon Faces Felony Trial

That horrible case in San Luis Obispo, in which Dr. Hootan Roozrokh, an organ transplant surgeon is accused of attempting to hasten the death of Ruben Navarro, a dependent adult to harvest his organs, is going to trial. From the story:

A judge dismissed two charges against a Bay Area transplant surgeon Wednesday but ordered him to stand trial on one felony charge related to the failed harvest of a disabled San Luis Obispo man’s organs at a local hospital in 2006. A jury will decide whether Dr. Hootan Roozrokh is guilty of dependent-adult abuse.

I believe in the presumption of innocence in criminal cases, and so I won’t comment on whether Dr. is criminally liable. But seems undisputed that he utterly violated the most important organ procurement ethical protocols and should face professional discipline. And he’s not the only one who should face such consequences, as described by the defense attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach:

No transplant surgeon in the world, he said, has ever been in similar circumstances, in which the hospital had no cardiac-donation protocol; its staff hadn’t been trained; the attending physician didn’t understand her role; and the surgeon and coordinator had only observed one such donation. “This is a situation where the entire system failed,” Schwartzbach said.

No doubt, but that doesn’t excuse abuse. And this comment from Schwartzbach seems outrageous to me:

“Nothing this man did, nothing this man said, adversely affected the quality of Mr. Navarro’s life,” Schwartzbach said, gesturing to Roozrokh.

Trying to speed death up so the patient can be an organ donor–and perhaps not coincidentally, Roozrokh would not be paid otherwise–is abuse regardless of the patient’s condition. Otherwise, no dying person is safe.