In a time when media outlets scramble for anyone to talk about the topic du jour, it's a rare pleasure to hear someone who is eloquent and intelligent on the topic at hand. This was the case during a Weekend Today segment about Jesica Santillan, the girl whose first transplant operation was marred by transplant organs of the wrong blood type, suffered irreversible brain damage after the second transplant this past week, and then died yesterday. Dr. Arthur Caplan, the director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, was interviewed by David Bloom, and Dr. Caplan was thoughtful. Too often, interviewers with ask questions that already contain the answers, questions that an opposing counsel would say are leading ("Did you feel very hurt and betrayed when you heard the news?" vs. "What was your reaction?"), an inevitability because the interviewees are on camera for the first time, hesitant and halting, which was the case when Katie Couric interviewed Satillan's cousin, sponsor, and family lawyer. There usually is a trade-off between objective, informed commentary and passionate, rambling answers. Dr. Caplan's interview was enlightening because he addressed questions many of us wondered about, outlining the issues in the situtation (the organ donation system in place in the U.S. today, whether or not Satillan should have had the second transplant since most people never survive a second transplant, whether or not Jesica should have been taken off life support). He did feel that brain death was death, no second opinion would really be needed as the family wanted, however, doctors should have tried to avoid negotiating with the family in this manner, and let the family grieve as they saw fit. Read the Duke statement about Satillan's operations.
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