Friday, April 20, 2007

So how do I interprete this comment... Organ donating and Motorcycling

This May, various groups in the Jewish Motorcyclist Alliance (JMA) will be riding together in NYC's Israeli Day Parade. I'm excited to be participating, along with my wife. Then a few days ago, I got an e-mail from the Halachic Organ Donor Society (HODS). After reading about HODS in a Treppenwitz posting, I applied for a donor card (I still haven't received it, it takes a while), so they have my e-mail address. They e-mailed to inform people that the organization would be walking in the parade, trying to promote awareness, and were inviting us to join them. I thought this was great, and I responded to the point of contact (POC) that while I wouldn't be marching with them, I would see if I could stop by before the parade to schmooze a little. I also said I'd be riding my motorcycle with the rest of the JMA. In the reply back, the POC said:

Cool, love to meet you, love to have you ride your motorcycle with us (with a helmet) it would be kind of funny cuz motorcycle guys without helmets are donors

Ouch, I'm sure he meant it in jest, but this is a very sore topic for motorcyclists. I firmly believe in wearing helmets, and I also believe in donating organs (within Halachic parameters) to save another life. However, there have been serveral laws proposed in various states in the U.S. that basically say if you ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet, and you are fatally injured in a crash, then local hospitals do not need to check if you are a registered organ donor, nor do they need permission from your family, you AUTOMATICALLY become an organ donor. I.e. Not wearing a helmet is in itself consent for organ donation.

Needless to say, this has created a huge outcry in the motorcycle community. This would be akin to saying anyone who drives without a seatbelt on becomes an automatic donor, or anyone who smokes becomes an automatic donor (although I'm not sure how good their organs would be).

So while I know the comment wasn't meant with malice, it still rubs me the wrong way. What I'm trying to figure out is whether or not I should let the POC know about these issues in case he is contacted in the future by other motorcyclists, or just let it roll off, figuring it was just an innocent remark, and he didn't know the deeper issues.

P.S. Don't get me wrong, I still fully support HODS and their mission!!


Mordechai Y. Scher said...

I'd bet this person doesn't know about the 'automatic donor' laws. I work as a medical professional; and *I* don't know about them. I think it's clear they were being cute/funny. I would go ahead and educate them, while being clear that it's not in anger or adversarial. You're right; other riders might be put off.

BTW, when we're (paramedics) out and pass a rider without a helmet, we inevitably comment that there goes 'a donorcycle'. It's not a reference to the automatic donor laws (which I didn't know about). It's a reference to the odds they face of injury with serious neurological sequelae.

Ride safe!

Mordechai Y. Scher (aka 'rabbi')

Jewish Deaf Motorcycling Dad said...

Thanks for that perspective. I think I'll try to draft up something and see how it goes. I've heard the "donorcycle" comments as well. Like anything in life, motorcycling has its risks.

I remember when a friend and I rode to a jump site to try a tandem skydive. Someone who had just landed and was carrying his canopy (parachute) looked at us and said something about how dangerous motorcycling was. Uh huh... and jumping out of a plane is sane? ;-)

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

Funny you should say that about skydiving. I always thought it should only be done as part of a mitzva (service in the IDF). Otherwise, who in their right mind jumps out of a plane?

Now, if one could *get to work* via parachute... :-)

(I'll have to wait until they're hiring the frum replacement for James Bond.)