Court: Man's organs donated despite mom's plea

Under Ohio law, no one other than the donor can amend or revoke an organ donation consent.
Associated Press
Jul 12, 2013

An Ohio man declared brain dead and on life support after a hit-and-run accident last week in Columbus had his organs harvested under court order Wednesday despite objections from his family who contended he did not fully understand the decision he made when he registered to be a donor.

The Columbus Dispatch reported on Thursday that Lifeline of Ohio, the area's organ procurement agency, sought the court order Wednesday morning after the mother of 21-year-old Elijah Smith addressed a letter to the agency and Grant Medical Center stating she did not want her son to be an organ donor.

"We do not want our son to die like this," Pamela Smith wrote. Her son's September driver's license application showed him as a registered organ donor.

Under Ohio law, no one other than the donor can amend or revoke an organ donation consent.

The victim's father, Rodney Smith, said he and his wife also wanted additional time to see if their son would recover.

Lifeline filed a complaint in Franklin County's probate court after the organization received Pamela Smith's letter.

"Under the circumstances, no one — not even his family — can undo what he did," the attorney for the agency wrote.

Judge Guy Reece issued the order Wednesday afternoon.

A Lifeline spokeswoman, Marilyn Pongonis, told the newspaper this is the first time the agency has sought such a court order.

"Our hope is the family will see their son saved lives, that he was a hero," she said.

Rodney Smith said the family did not know his son was a registered donor. He said he hopes more families will become aware of donation procedures.

"Of course it sounds like a good idea, because you're helping someone else out," he said. "But in the end, someone has to sacrifice their body in order for someone else to gain."

Almost 119,000 are on the national organ transplant waiting list, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Elijah Smith was struck around 4 a.m. July 3 in Columbus' north end as he was biking home from work. Doctors declared him brain dead the following day. Police have found the vehicle that struck him, but no one has been charged in the incident.




"given the corruption that is, as I said, inevitable. Free markets don't work when they're overregulated. They also don't work when they're thoroughly corrupted."

Wow! Sounds just like something Big Dog would say, and probably has paraphrased talking about some other industry. See, Sam, this is how the country becomes socialist and authoritarian.

Everybody has their pet cause where their emotions compel them to carve out exceptions to limited government. Combined, all those exceptions create total tyranny. It probably warms Dog's heart to see you doing your part for his cause. Nor is this the first issue on which you've been two-faced about limited government.
You complain about a shortage of organs. Go back to economics 101 - under supply and demand, what causes shortages? Artificial ceilings on the price, in this case a zero dollar ceiling. If you can outlaw compensation completely with X level of government, you can effectively police a commercial system with Y level, where Y < X.

You're either for limited government, or you're not. Principle ceases to be principle when it's subordinate to the question of whose ox is being gored.

Oh, by the way, the organ recipient is charged for the harvest operation.


Once the declaration of brain death has been made (for those who are donors) the organ donation team pretty much comes in and takes over. The patient's hospital bill is "stopped" at that point. All costs for organ donation are covered by the organization.




Umm...No, As a nursing student this was part of a researched project. And not to mention there was a conference held at a local hospital which went into great detail about the process. For those who decide to donate and after a declaration of brain death has been made, the organization which handles harvesting the organs takes over and the billing from the hospital stops at that moment.


That's the right part. What about the cost of taking the organs? Who pays?


And it's been established that, if that box on your license is checked, it biases the decision as to when you're brain dead.

There's at least one case of the transplant surgeon about to harvest from a patient declared brain deaf, seeing the patient's adam's apple move, and refusing to continue the procedure, and that patient walking out of the hospital a month later. I have spoken to the sister of a drowning victim and heard how the hospital declared her brother brain dead and pressured the family to donate his organs, and they refused. A few years later this "brain dead" man was writing computer software.


Contango if I'm reading what you're suggesting correctly - and I'll admit I might be wrong - you're suggesting that the organs go to the highest bidder and that's just about as wrong as anything could possibly be! Now this is just my opinion but in most cases when someone is going thru a terminal illness where they need an organ replacement they don't exactly have truckloads of money laying around to go out and buy whatever organ they need that's on the market. There's hospital expenses, medicine, in-home care (because 9 times out of 10 the people that needs these things are probably not able to be up and working, they're bed bound) and that all takes money that usually exceeds what their insurance covers, if it covers it at all. So if they need it - and they happen to be a match for that person - they need to come up with the money somehow to buy the organ that has just been placed on the auction block?? There is no real answer to organ shortage except education and continued donation campaigning. I really hope the day never comes when one of your loved ones is in need of an organ donation and you're faced with this problem. Then your answer of seeing who has one on the market available for sale isn't an answer in any way, shape or form.


My comment is just about the story itself. I guess I can understand what the parents were thinking in the short term but really, their son was declared brain dead. The hope would be there for recovery but the reality would be slim to none. In the meantime, he's on life support for who knows how long at who's expense? Certainly not the parents as he was age 21. So that means medicaid, hence, we the taxpayers. On top of that, did they not even consider their son's quality of life in the event there was even a minute recovery? I say it was just being selfish on their part.



Yellow Snow

Ummmm, you can stay on your parents insurance until your 26 now. I don't think that applies if your are married though.


Who is to say his parent had insurance? Even then, I'm quite sure there is a cap to what would be paid.


People are frequently erroneously declared brain dead, and the probability of this happening increases when they are known to be an organ donor.

The Big Dog's back

Frequently? I don't think so.


Nemesis is a teabagger I believe, I can see why they often are declared brain dead when in fact, they just haven't seen the light yet. :}

The Big Dog's back



This is a really sad story..I live in Columbus now and it was all over the news. The kid was riding his bike home from work at night and someone ran him over and took off. He also had a newborn child. The parents wanted to wait to see if he could somehow recover from being brain dead but because he had organ donor on his driver's license they took his organs and pulled the plug.


I do not know if I can buy the story as you have written, did he have a DNR stipulation? Was he on full life support? Not sure of the rules but some of those things are spelled out, I know I do.


Brain dead is brain dead. You can't somehow recover. I feel for the family for their loss and lack of understanding.


Good for him, and if there is a way for him to look into the living world he will see that he has given the ultimate sacrifice and others will benefit from his choice. I carry a donor card as well as my drivers license.

dorothy gale

I donate blood every 16 weeks, two units red blood cells. I am not an organ donor so giving blood is my way of giving life.


oh no. here we go again with our version of rewriting the donation laws. This young man decided to donate his organs- the family is changing his wishes when he is not able to defend his decision. If someone does not want to donate, I am slightly disappointed that some people do not want to donate because of all the opportunities that they have with the tissues and bones. Having said that I dont believe that the families of people over 16 should have the right to over turn donation wishes of that person. just remember , there is probably a lot more involved here with the case, such as intubation of the kid, what treatment is being done to keep him alive for donations. Just remember when your donating your organs, you are going thru a proccess when your brain dead, at that time you really wont care but you will have the chance to save one if not several lives. Thats awesome.




They could incorporate the whole thing into obamacare. The IRS could offset outstanding taxes with a couple of organs. After a few years of disastrous results, the fed govt could start a reform bill and bring new meaning to "kick the can down the road"


I'm pretty sure I shouldn't have laughed when I read this. Serious topic, and unfortunately a suggestion that might also be taken seriously if the Obama-ites get their hands on it. Still pretty darned funny, though. :-)

The Big Dog's back

Funny, because Obamacare doesn't kick the can down the road.


I tuned in to Rush Limbag the other day for a few laughs. Heard a couple times a commercial come on for tax debt relief. Guy was saying he was lax on his income tax, was in debt over $90,000 in back taxes. Got it settled for $4500. with the IRS. Somehow, someway, repubaggers would even figure a way out of that. Besides, who in the heck would want a shriveled old heart?

Pterocarya frax...

Anyone that would sell their organs for profit has no soul. Yes, that is directed at a couple of you.


I worked at clevelad clinic in organ transplant. I've also dealt with these agencies that ask families to donate organs. PUSHY, RUDE, INCONSIDERATE.

Hope nobody I know ever needs an organ donated. I know I will never donate because the agencies that seek out the organs are vultures!


They probably do seem like vultures, particularly to a family that's just suffered a tragedy and hasn't even begun to grieve. But I don't think they're REALLY vultures. I think they're really DESPERATE.

With the shortages of organs and the waiting lists for each, people die every day after living in the impossible situation where they have to hope somebody else dies just so that they can live. The short window of time the patient has left, and the even shorter window for "harvesting," pretty much necessitates the push from the agencies.

I've read many stories from families of donors that say the donations gave them some sense of peace as well as the comforting notion that at least a part of their loved one lives on. That's undoubtedly true, at least eventually. It's also not something they're capable of thinking about in the first moments of impending loss.

I still support organ donation, but then I've made it abundantly clear not just on my license but with a Living Will. That's partly because I want to be sure it happens, but it's MOSTLY because I don't want any of MY loved ones to be forced to say either yes or no under such stressful circumstances!


Perfectly stated!!!