"Are you an organ donor?" the night nurse asked, turning slightly away from the computer monitor and towards me.
"I'd honestly prefer not to say," I said.
I saw the question there, though the glow of the monitor reflected off her glasses and obscured her eyes. Why?
"If something happens, the staff may not try too hard to save me..."
Words formed silently on her lips until I finished: "...because I'm disabled."
She smoothed back what she planned on saying, and nodded.
She told me she's heard certain sentiments (swearing not at the hospital I was in, of course) having to do with the disabled in the medical profession. She didn't give specifics and I, not wanting to compound my fears, didn't push. According to hospital record, I'm NOT an organ donor.
When I was little, I feared needles and other tests. While I'm still jittery, I now have worse fears. Worse because they're insidious... and legitimate.
Here are some things that really scare me and are documented:
1. My doctor can outright refuse to put me on a transplant list, even if I'd be a good candidate if I could walk. (An autistic man's doctor refused to put him on the waitlist for a new heart.)
2. Surgeons often wonder WHY they're performing a procedure on someone "better off dead". (A surgeon admitted to parents of a child with Down Syndrome that she thought "why bother" until she spoke with the girl before surgery. What if she wouldn't have had the chance to speak with her beforehand?)
3. More than one case has been reported of doctors refusing to revive disabled patients. (In one, a premature baby doctors knew to be disabled died in its mother's arms after so-called professionals refused to even attempt rescue.)
4. My doctor may see even less value in my living if I'm a donor. (In Europe, more countries are putting out new/liberal guidelines for child euthanasia. The first country to pioneer these guidelines was looking at organ harvesting. For North America, there have been nurses coming forward to tell the tales of doctors stopping healing efforts once they heard the disabled person was a donor.)
I wish the examples I gave were rare. I wish I didn't have the facts to back up my fears. What is reported by media is (according to advocates) but a small percentage of what actually happens. **If you want links, I will provide. I have at least one on my Twitter.**
Granted, there are many excellent doctors out there who see everyone as human, worthy of life. But, if you're disabled, all it takes is one to decide otherwise and...