Although I am a Catholic priest, I am also an ex-paramedic and I graduated pre-health from Boston College. I am writing this blog post “Why you should say no to organ donation on your driver’s license” as a former paramedic, not as a priest. In other words, this blog post will be practical medical advice for all readers Catholic or non-Catholic. There will be no overt Catholic bioethics below, except these two sentences: The Catholic Church has no problem with organ donation per-se. The problem is that certain organs are always cut out of living people, effecting a homicide for “good reasons.”
Although a liver or a cornea could be harvested from a cadaver for organ donation from a dead body, a heart is always cut out of a living body in first world countries. The term “Brain Death” was invented by a team of Harvard physicians to re-define death for this very purpose. So called “brain-death” essentially means that a patient has an active cardio-vascular system, but with reduced activity on the electroencephalogram (EEG.) An EEG measures electrical activity in the brain. This should not be confused with an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) which measures the electrical activity of the heart. Transplant surgeons prefer to cut the heart out of live patients with active EKGs (but minimal EEGs) because a heart that has stopped beating actually harms the tissue via something called a “hypoxic insult” to the tissue. Remember that the heart must beat oxygen-rich blood not only to the whole body, but to the heart itself.
In lay terms, Cardiac muscle goes so badly so quickly after the heart stops beating that transplant surgeons must find a way to anesthetize the patient so as to cut the heart out of that living body. It should be obvious that a dead body would not need anesthesia! But this sounds too creepy to exist without a cover. Harvard Medical invented the cover, “Brain Death” precisely so as to justify the harvesting of hearts from living people. If you put “Yes” on your Driver’s License to organ donation, and if you were to sustain a Traumatic Brain Injury with no damage to your cardiovascular system, you would certainly be a prime candidate to have your heart cut out of your own living body (deemed brain dead because of a reduced EEG.)
The New England Journal of Medicine recently removed an article formerly found here where they admitted that transplant surgeons were cutting the hearts out of live patients. Their bioethical justification read word-for-word: “Many will object that transplantation surgeons cannot legally or ethically remove vital organs from patients before death, since doing so will cause their death. However, if the critiques of the current methods of diagnosing death are correct, then such actions are already taking place on a routine basis.” Let me translate that into lay terms: “Some people may think it’s wrong to cut organs out of living people, and they might be correct, but it’s irrelevant because they’re simply too late to protest, since we’ve already been doing it for quite a while.”
To be sure, certain organs can be cut from a live person with no challenge from even the most conservative bioethicists. For example, one person could give another person a kidney, and both could go on living. But after certain traumatic events, especially neuro-trauma (head and neck) the transplant surgeons aim to harvest the heart for the next living person that could use it. Again, this must be cut from a living patient who has been declared to have reduced brain activity, aka “Brain Death,” as the cover to appease the more squeamish of bioethicists. Besides the fact that this is justifying murder (as some surgical cut has to stop the heart!) it should be noted that numerous people who had formerly been declared “brain dead” have actually recovered. Dr. Shewmon MD of Pediatric Neurology at UCLA has demonstrated that children who have survived as brain dead for up to 14 years have overcome infections and even their wounds.
For this reason, we must consider that Byrne et. all in the book Life, Life Support and Death write “No one shall be determined or declared dead unless and until there is destruction of at least the three basic unifying systems of the body, namely, the circulatory and respiratory systems, and the entire brain.”
When I was a priest on loan to Florida last year, I was called to help a Spanish-only speaking family who I had never met. The parents were from Mexico, but they had raised their three children in California. Their 26 year old son, Joel, had been a very popular restaurant-worker there in Jacksonville, FL. For reasons unknown, he was shot in the head one night last year and transported by Jax EMS to Memorial Hospital where he was resuscitated and moved to the ICU. The Gun Shot Wound (GSW) to the head seemed to be incompatible with “a meaningful life.” Thus, the hospital staff wanted to wheel Joel away to harvest his heart from his living body in a separate room. However, this would mean that Joel would not die in the presence of his parents in the ICU. (You can’t exactly have parents watch you cut the heart out of their live son.) I had just arrived to intervene at this time, and I subsequently explained this to the parents the fate of their son. Naturally, his parents refused to have their living son, who was able to make eye contact, killed for his heart.
In response to my intervention and his parents’ wishes, Joel was left in the ICU to starve to death. We protested this decision in both English and Spanish, but were ignored for nearly two days with Joel starving. Finally, I called civil attorneys in Washington DC with a group called Life Legal Defense Foundation. Joel’s parents gave permission for them to publish his story here.
Ultimately, LLDF’s attorney was able to force the hospital ICU physicians to establish a nasogastric tube to feed Joel. Joel received artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) until he died a few days later in the ICU from the GSW. Although a GSW is not to be considered a “natural death,” it was certainly a more natural death than having his live heart cut out of his living body. As you can see from the above picture, Joel was able to look at me when I took out my phone for a picture with him and his mother. A few days later, Joel died a peaceful death with no narcotics. He died with the sacraments. He died with his parents and brother at his side. None of this would have been possible if hospital staff had been able to cut his heart out of his living body and/or overdose him with narcotics.
My suggestion as an ex-paramedic is to put “No” on your Driver’s License to organ donation. A better option is this: A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Document is a legal document that lets you name someone else to make decisions about your health care in case you are not able to make those decisions yourself. Should you wish to indicate to that person that you wish to donate, say, liver or kidneys or cornea to patients who need it (in the event that you die) then the person you have made your Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (who hopefully shares a similar set of bioethics as you) can make that decision for you. It is better to start with a “No” to that organ donation on your driver’s license and let your spouse dial that up, than to start with a “Yes” and have a loved-one unable to stop you from being wheeled away as your heart is cut out of your living body, should you have just sustained a traumatic brain injury.
The most important thing in the Catholic Church is the glory of God. Secondly, the salvation of souls. The term “social justice” has been commandeered by SJWs, but let’s admit that real social justice is still on the top-ten list of important things in Catholicism.
About five years ago, I ran into a North American priest in Rio De Janeiro. We traveled around the city a bit, and I explained to him why my two great passions were ending abortion and ending child sex-slavery. After my long explanation, he simply said, “So abortion kills children’s bodies and child-trafficking kills their souls?” He got it perfectly. In fact, as I look back, he gave the most succinct description for everything I want to give my life for. (The only passion now greater in my life the restoration of the Church, for I have realized: If we don’t have a functioning vehicle of salvation of souls, why save bodies on earth?)
But abortion and trafficking aren’t pet projects of mine. Proof is this: Can anyone name anything worse than killing children’s bodies or souls? Of course not. There are no other issues of social justice today, or even in history, that matter so much. Most of you know global and domestic abortion statistics, but did you know there are 6,000,000 child slaves (updated since the video below) in the world? Tim Ballard of Operation Undergound Railroad claims that there are 300,000 child sex-slaves are here in the USA alone. Yes, the are 300k child sex-slaves are here in the USA, not just during Super Bowl time (when every Catholic feels the need to put something on social media, as if these children who are raped 15-30 times a day are somehow wheeled back to a storage unit until the next Super Bowl.)
So, every Catholic should be doing something weekly for the end of abortion and child-trafficking, even if only a little penance amidst your busy family schedules. As that priest summarized, “Abortion kills children’s bodies. Child-trafficking kills their souls.” Nothing in history has ever been so evil. This is happening under my watch and yours, even in the USA, so let’s stop expecting religious leaders and presidents of governments to do something. For example, one former spiritual directee of mine was so moved by the plight of these children that she did something herself. She founded Children of the Immaculate Heart, a home in San Diego for the recovery and restoration of girls who have been rescued from sex-slavery in California. Her organization is a 501c3 and a worth target of your financial and spiritual sacrifices.
Yes, conservative Christians and traditional Catholics, we really need to reclaim the term “social justice” and fight harder for these two issues more than anything (except God’s glory and the salvation of souls, into which the two above issues of children’s social justice are actually deeply interwoven.)
Proof that these are not separate issues is this: It is our generous response to these two social justice issues of today that will truly determine which of the following two sentences each of us will hear from Jesus Christ (perhaps verbatim!) just a few minutes after we hit cardiac arrest:
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”—Mt 25:34-36
“Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.”—Mt 25:41-43
Nota Bene: A few months ago, I was talking to Steve Skojec of OnePeterFive on the phone about potential scandals that I suspected would break. Before we hung up, I had mentioned that it was the one year anniversary of the best day of my priesthood. I told him the following story. To my surprise, my fellow Catholic-blogger Steve encouraged me to blog about the below. I said that writing about it would be self-centered or narcissistic. He didnt think so. So, with all the bad news in the Catholic media, I want to share a day that was purely a gift from God.
I spent 2017 as the parish priest in a small bayou parish in south Louisiana. Their normal pastor was serving as a chaplain for the US Army for a year, and he needed someone who knew the Traditional Latin Mass. His tiny bayou parish was very unusual insofar as it was under the jurisdiction of the diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, but was 1962-sacraments-only. The bishop down there was very good to me. Like most “Latin ghettos” in other dioceses, this Latin Mass parish was found in a poor part of the state, in this case on Tiger Bayou, full of gators and ditched oil rigs. I describe Louisiana as a “Catholic Texas” and I very much fell in love with Louisiana and her people. For example, when my neighbors across the bayou found out that my sister’s family was coming out from Colorado to visit me for a week, they immediately put out big speakers for zydeco music and fired up a crawfish boil for us:
Every Tuesday night, I would head to New Orleans and stay with a very gracious family on Esplanade. Wednesday morning, I woke up to go counsel at a very nasty abortion center called “Women’s Health Care Center” on 2701 General Pershing. By “counsel” we in the pro-life movement of course mean that we compassionately and peacefully ask couples who are going into an abortion center to reconsider life for their child. We offer free medical care, adoption, financial support and anything needed… so that the woman entering the abortion center does not have a “doctor” inside kill her living, child with a heartbeat and eyes and toes, all to end up in the dumpster behind General Pershing. We call it “a save” when someone decides not to kill their child. In all honesty, I don’t have many “saves,” which is why I usually just do the Leo XIII chapter 3 minor exorcism prayers in front of the abortion centers (something the bishop of New Orleans gave me permission to do.)
But Wednesday, 24 May 2017 was a bit different. It was the vigil of the Ascension of Our Lord. Several of us pro-lifers were outside General Pershing, counseling women going inside, begging them not to kill their children, but usually with more attractive vocabulary than that. Most of my sidewalk counseling team is usually women about ten to twenty years older than me. My friend Clemmie is one example. That day, she spoke to a 20 year old woman who was about 8 to 10 weeks pregnant. She was going inside the abortion center, and it seemed like a good conversation because the young woman said she’d go back to her car and think about it. She did return to her car, but then, disaster: She decided to keep her abortion appointment.
As she was walking back inside, Clemmie was on the other side of the building, unable to intercept her. However, the young woman accidentally ran into me! Here I was in my cassock (Roman Collar) with a book in hand and everything. A thousand pro-life phrases ran through my head, in order to save this baby. But something stupid came out of my mouth. I said: “Honey, it doesn’t look like you want to go in there, do you?” She said “I don’t know.” I said, “Let’s go get breakfast.” She said, “Ok.” So, I quickly invited Clemmie to come with us. There, over Mexican eggs and shrimp, the gal agreed to go with us to get her a free ultrasound at a Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPCs) in Metarie. (It’s very hard for women to abort their baby when they see it for the first time on ultrasound, even when they have an abortion appointment, as it was in this case.) So, our new friend quickly followed us over to a Metarie CPC. There, she got her ultrasound as we prayed before the Blessed Sacrament.
Now, you have to understand: CPCs treat us sidewalk counselors about in the the same manner that well-groomed Emergency Department physicians treat gruff street-paramedics: “Thanks for your work, now please leave the patient alone.” In defense of CPCs, they have good reason for this protective strategy: Abortion-minded women need one and only one lifeline of support when they choose life, not numerous pro-lifers checking up on her. So, Clemmie and I went to get lunch in obedience to the CPC. However, as we were leaving, our new friend was looking at us. We knew the CPC didn’t want us to talk to her much anymore, but she clearly needed us as friends at that moment. I sheepishly invited her to lunch. She answered in a sweet Louisiana drawl: “Well, I wouldn’t want to impose…”
By the end of the day, Clemmie and I had spent about 7 hours with our new friend, and her unborn baby. She had decided on life!
Clemmie and me on that providential day.
By now, it was almost rush hour, and I had to get Clemmie back from Metarie to General Pershing. We were pretty confident our new friend was going to stick with the growing unborn baby inside of her, so we zipped back home. Clem and I got on a crowded Eastbound I-10 when, all of a sudden, the traffic went from 60mph to 0mph. As an ex-paramedic, I had an immediate spidey-sense that something very bad had just happened. My peripheral vision caught a wave of cars piling up behind a downed motorcyclist. I jacked the wheel hard to the right to pull into the emergency lane. “Stay right here Clemmie,” I said, as I grabbed blue latex gloves from my car door pocket to go investigate.
In the middle of New Orleans’ biggest interstate, I found a 17 year old boy, lying on his back and bleeding with his motorcycle next to him. There were probably 1000 cars behind him, and there was an eerie silence because there were no sirens yet. I got his helmet off and began talking to him. I had to make an immediate decision whether I would leave him in the dangerous interstate, or move him to the jersey barrier, a move that might compromise his cervical spine if there were a fracture. I decided to move him. We got him to the jersey barrier there on I-10 and I began working him up as the ex- paramedic that I was. I found a pelvis fracture that New Orleans EMS would later miss, and my informing EMS of this find probably bumped up his treatment to a Trauma I or Trauma II center. In any case, as I was doing all my medicine, but before EMS arrived, there were bystanders watching all of this, and in the far distance, you could start to hear the sirens. 1
The kid started to wake up. Remembering that this was New Orleans, and how many Catholics were in town, I asked him if he would like to go to confession. To my shock, he said “Yes.” So…I sent away all of the bystanders. The Fire Department was not yet there, either. There, as he leaned against the cement bleeding, with his motorcycle still in the middle of I-10, he confessed his sins. As I raised my hand to give him absolution, I saw the kid’s blood all over my latex glove. I watched my right hand, full of blood, go up-and-down, left-and-right, as the instrument of the blood of Jesus Christ, forgiving his sins.
At that moment, I remembered the words of Archbishop Fulton Sheen:
“We don’t realize that the very Blood of Christ is dripping from our fingers onto their heads, washing the penitent clean.”
A few minutes later, NOLA EMS arrived, and I transferred my patient, broken but cleaned. I never saw that kid again. I don’t even remember his name. Later in that day, I found out that the General Pershing abortion center had sent hired armed bounty hunters to look for me, claiming I kidnapped their client! I know this story is hard to believe, but I promise all of it is true (except the above three pictures of the Motorcycle Accident, I-10 and bloody gloves are just random shots off of Google images.) Everything else, including the pictures at the top, and of course the picture below, are real.
But, the best part of this story is this: Seven months later, our little “save” was born:
This is an hour long video on how to attend Holy Mass like the saints. They come from meditations from St. Francis De Sales on the Passion of Christ within the Traditional Latin Mass.
My friend Fr. Robert received this message from Bishop Mamza of Nigeria:
“The 110 school girls abducted by Boko Haram here in Nigeria about one month ago were all returned except for five of them who died and one of them, Lea Sharibu who happens to be a Christian. They refused to release Lea because she refused to denounce Christianity for Islam. Please pray for her immediate release.”
We would like to get 100 Masses offered for her rescue before Easter.
If you are a priest, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to pledge one or more Masses for the rescue of this fearless Catholic girl who will not deny Jesus Christ. Nothing is more powerful for her rescue than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered 100 or even 1000 times for her. (In the email, please include the date(s) that Holy Mass will be offered.)
If you are a layman or lay woman, please email us at email@example.com to pledge fasting or Rosaries or Adoration time or Bible reading time for the rescue of this fearless Christian captive girl. Miss Sharibu values the truth of the Gospel and the Church more than her own life. We want her rescued and re-united with her family . We very much believe God will hear our prayers.
We want her returned by Easter and we will send this spiritual bouquet to her bishop on Easter Week.
Filmed in Louisiana on Christmas 2016
This is the same as my podcast but in video form. Also, the audio did not include the Question and Answer period at the end. This video on YouTube includes it.
Creation and Redemption and the Bayou. Henry Thomas gives us some classic but modern Thomistic Theology on gaining wisdom in spiritual warfare.