Current News

Federal Tax Dollars to Fund Organ Harvest Ambulance Pilot Program in New York City

By Jason Poblete
Published: June 21, 2008


When I first read about the proposed Rapid Organ Recovery Ambulance (RORA) program in New York City, the first thing I thought about was China. While the comparison is completely unfair, the thought of an Organ Ambulance sounded, at first, like the Chinese Government’s well-documented program of harvesting organs from political dissidents then selling them to needy transplant patients.

There is no doubt that organ donation saves lives and should be encouraged; however, it must remain a decision for the individual donor or their families after careful thought and consideration. An ambulance crew is dispatched to save lives, not collect on body parts. I have no doubt that New York officials will think through the ramifications of the RORA program; as there will also be many individuals and groups weighing in on all sides of the ethical ramifications of collecting organs at the scene of an accident.

What caught my attention, and this was barely mentioned in any news items, is that RORA is a federally funded pilot program. The federal government conducts pilot programs to test a policy solution to a problem. They are used a lot in the health care arena, but it can be used in education and other areas. These social experiments come at cost and we, the taxpayers, always foot the bill. New York City has received a $1.5 million grant from the federal government to establish and study RORA. Who asked for this money and why? Did Congress approve the grant?

Pilot programs are generally a waste of taxpayer monies. Things that should be developed and funded by the private sector in a free-market setting, are punted by lobbyists and health care advocacy groups to the federal government. Even it it makes little economic sense, who is checking?

RORA proponents will likely state that organ collection will not take place at the scene of an accident until well-after all life-saving measures have been performed on a prospective donor. Who gets to decide when someone lives and someone dies? How much emergency care sufficient? How will they know the accident victim is a donor or not? First responders want to save lives, not harvest body parts. An accident scene is not the place to make these decisions and we should not allow the federal government to muddle how our first responders save lives.

The RORA program is fraught with not only economic waste, but with ethical issues and policy considerations that will ultimately hurt not help the organ donation programs across the country. If we want to encourage more people to consider organ donation, the RORA government-sponsored program is not the way to do it. Do you want your tax dollars spent in this manner?

Our federal government should invest tax payer dollars on such things as preventing terrorist attacks, securing our borders, expanding foreign markets for U.S. goods and services, or keeping our military prepared for today and tomorrow’s challenges. Leave organ donation to the medical and ethical professionals in the free-market of ideas. The federal nanny state is large enough already and it has no business further regulating U.S. health care.

Back to Articles