Re: Can / Should Extropians be Organ Donors?

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Wed Feb 20 2002 - 17:15:06 MST

On Wed, Feb 20, 2002 at 11:30:30PM +0000, Tom Andrys wrote:
> So I propose: is organ donation a valid, adhering extropian pursuit?

Self ownership is a central concept for extropian thought: our bodies
are our own to dispose of. And it seems reasonable to accept the right
to testament one's possessions - including the body.

Does organ transplants promote extropy? I would say so - they help other
beings live full lives. But there is no necessary ethical obligation to
do it, it is just a good act and may become subordinate to other

One such concern is that currently cryonics is incompatible with organ
donation: cryopreserved organs are not suitable, and the interval
between diagnosed brain death and finishing the transplantation
operation is likely so long that significant deterioration will have
occured. So if you bet your personal survival on cryonics, you can't at
the same time become an organ donor according to current rules.

It is of course possible that rules will change in the future and it
will be OK to transplant organs from cryonics patients stipulating this
in their wills. But I think this is rather unlikely - the number of
cryonics patients is so low and non destructive organ retrival from
frozen bodies so hard that it is unlikely to be relevant for the organ
shortage issue. Instead technological aspects such as tissue engineering
are very likely to become central (and provide one of the inroads
towards cell repair). Scenarios about geting revived and having to go on
external dialysis appears self contradictory: if the government limits
research into replacement organs, then you can bet it will limit
research into replacement bodies and cell repair!

If you are not cryonically suspended and die, then at least donating
organs can provide some extra help to other aspiring beings. You have
not lost more from doing this (having already lost everything,
unfortunately). But this altruism is in the end up to you.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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