Carter Cookson, the weeks old baby who needed a heart transplant has died – this is tragic, of course it is, but we should pay at least a certain amount of attention to what did not happen. Another set of parents are not mourning their own child. For, as is so often not true in this world, heart transplants are a zero sum game. One must die so that a heart is available to transplant into another who will live.
Thus “appeals” for a heart to transplant aren’t really quite the right thing:
Baby Carter Cookson has died after appeal for heart donor fails
His parents had made a desperate plea for an organ donor for the newborn who suffered heart problems.
The thing is, near all organs that are viable for transplant are already used for transplant. As the change in the law in Wales showed – moving to a presumed consent system hasn’t increased the number of transplants happening at all. So appealing for one doesn’t really quite work.
This isn’t true of most of life – the economy is a positive sum game for example – and it’s not even true of most transplants. Live kidney transplants are so obviously possible that we’ve got to stop people paying for them. Lungs and livers too – people can indeed, and do, live donate a lobe.
Hearts though? Sadly, we’ve each only the one and we do rather require it ourselves:
A three-week-old baby who was in desperate need of a heart transplant has died, his parents have said. Carter Cookson, who was born prematurely on Boxing Day with heart problems, had suffered three cardiac arrests and was on a life-support machine. His parents Sarah and Chris Cookson had been running a social media appeal to find a donor.
Often enough those who have lost a loved one whose organs were used to save other lives go on to talk about how that saving aided their grief. This isn’t going to aid Carter’s parents but it’s true all the same. That lack of a heart to save his life means someone elses’ baby hadn’t died so that it could be provided.