Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Character: Iraqi Doctor

    Involuntary Organ Donor

In Iraq, 1975, I worked as an Eye Registrar at the Medical Teaching Hospital. This hospital was the only hospital that had referrals which included complicated and unusual cases.

One of my patients I had treated, Mr. Rahman, a 60 year old Iraqi man, had a corneal disease in his left eye. He had consistent pain, loss of sight, and was not improved by any sort of medicine that we had given him. I found out that PK or a Corneal Transplant was the only way to regain Mr Rahman’s vision and stop the pain.

Corneas weren’t available in Iraq to do this procedure because donations of any organ weren’t common nor accepted due to religious and personal reasons.
Mr. Rahman was required to wait until he had the opportunity to be given a corneal transplant by a donor, which might take many years.

At the time of the 1970s, there was a murderer in Iraq who killed people in their houses or anywhere, with a sharp blade. The people called him “Abu Tobar” (The man with the big blade). With so many deaths happening around, after 6 months or so, the murderer was captured and soon got executed for the cause he had made. I do want to remind you that in Iraq, the Jail Authority have the control to do anything with the prisoners that had been executed (such as donating their organ).

Till then, we had no cornea to be donated by anyone. The hospital received a call from the Jail Authority regarding about a suggestion to donating the murderer’s cornea, this was the only chance to help Mr. Rahman. He had signed the usual concent of the operation that I was going to do, but I did not clarify Mr. Rahman about who’s the donor. So, without his notice of who’s the donor’s identity, I implanted the cornea. The operation was successful.

Several weeks later, Mr. Rahman came to the hospital for a follow up examination, he asked me with deep concern about the “donor’s identity”. I was speechless, in some way, guilty of what I had done and wasn’t able to tell him the truth, because no one would like this situation to happen to him/herself. Unfortunately, Mr Rahman had been told by one of the paramedics working at the hospital that the cornea implanted in his eyes was taken from the murderer by the Jail Authority.


Blogger augurwell said...


Well this is a case of " If thy eye offend thee, pluck it out." Literally.


6:51 AM  

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