Headline Writing

Tuesday, 19 August 2008, 10:31 | Category : Life
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I took news writing classes in college – it was mandatory since one of my 2 majors was journalism. I understand that headlines need to be sensational enough to get the attention of a prospective reader. But this one certainly got my attention today:

Did doctors remove babies’ hearts too soon?

The story isn’t much better – essentially asking if a team of doctors were violating a code of ethics among doctors to only harvest organs for transplants from someone who has been declared dead. For adult transplants, that means waiting 2-5 minutes after the person has been removed from life support to see if the heart starts beating again on its own. If it does not, then the organ may be harvested. In these pediatric cases, the doctors waited 75 seconds before harvesting. The hearts come from newborns who suffered major birth trauma resulting in severe neurological damage – damage from which the babies will never recover. By waiting the 75 seconds instead of 5 minutes, the transplant rates are much more successful.

One of my cousins actually had a heart transplant when I was a kid – I never met him (he lives in California), but I remember seeing pictures of him. He was “Baby Brian who had a monkey heart for a while.” And, a friend of mine in elementary school ended up having at least one heart transplant over the past several years. It seems like he’s on his second heart now, but we’ve lost touch so I don’t know for sure.  The measures that were taken in those operating rooms saved their lives. What these doctors are doing now are saving even more lives.

When my time comes, if they need my organs – and they’re sure I won’t wake up – you don’t need to wait 5 minutes to see if I change my mind.

You can read the whole article about the heart transplants from Salon.

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