Walter Paytons death shows the need for...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Walter Paytons death shows the need for more organ donors

Walter Payton, one of the greatest football players of all time, died last week. He had been on the waiting list for a liver transplant, although when he died he may have been too sick to receive a transplant.

The day Mr. Payton died, two or three other people probably died while on the waiting list for a liver. Another three or four died waiting for a heart or lung and five or six died waiting for a kidney.

And the next day, 10 or 12 more people died waiting. And the day after that, too.

About 4,000 people will die this year while waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. And next year, too.

More lives could be saved if more people were organ donors and if more doctors, nurses and hospitals supported donation.

Why dont more people become donors? Many are scared or misinformed.

Some fear signing a donor card means that if theyre hospitalized, some doctor will let them die to get their organs.

Some think they need to be buried with all their organs. Some think donated organs go to rich and famous people first.

None of these myths are true. Money cant buy organs. Only generous, caring people can increase the supply of scarce organs, by sharing the gift of life.

Think about it and share your decision to donate with your family. Help somebody else to live. It might be your neighbor, or a family member, or even a famous guy like Walter Payton who needs your help.

Be an organ and tissue donor. Be a hero for life.

Marion Borowiecki

Baltimore

The writer is chief executive officer of the Transplant Resouce Center of Maryland.

Lying to get patients care may raise costs, hurt trust

Further perspectives are needed on the recent study whch found that many doctors say it is acceptable to lie to third-party payers to obtain medical care for patients who cant afford it (Doctors say lying OK to aid patients, Oct. 25).

One of the researchers who conducted the study said doctors need to be removed from the position of being both the patients advocate and cost controller.

However, in this new medical era, doctors may need to balance patient advocacy against insurers de-facto rationing mechanisms to control health care costs, which is also an important imperative.

Doctors need to consider the effects of their decisions on other patients, who may be adversely affected by decisions that cause spiraling health care costs.

Lying to insurers can also have profound effects on the patient-physician relationship, as patients might begin to wonder: If the doctor is willing to lie for them, would the doctor lie to them?

Dr. Henry Silverman

Baltimore

The writer is a medical ethicist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Church Home hospital could have been revived

The Suns article Leaving Home (Nov. 1) gave a glimpse of the sadness of Church Home Hospitals closing. But its hopeful words and the brave smiles in the photographs didnt do justice to these elderly residents being uprooted from what they trusted would be their last home.

Something is wrong with this picture: Assisted-living facilities are under construction by the dozens and many existing homes are expanding. Yet an institution with a fine reputation, deeply rooted in Baltimore history closes its doors.

Where are the visionaries who could have seen Church Home as the core of an East Baltimore retirement community?

I mourn the passing of this very special place.

Sarah B. Hanson

Fork

Freedom from religion is part of religious freedom

In her recent letter, Ginger Chiveral claims that there is no constitutional freedom from religion. (Freedom of religion, not freedom from religion, Nov. 7).

The First Amendment has two clauses concerning religion because its writers recognized that religious freedom requires freedom from other peoples religions.

The first prohibits laws respecting an establishment of religion. This protects our right to worship (or not) as we please.

The second clause protects the free exercise of religion. But the first reminds us that this doesnt include efforts to impose religion via legislation, or through a public institution such as schools.

A business owner is free , to alienate non-Christian customers by giving discounts for those bringing church bulletins.

But maybe the myth that this is a Christian nation will be dispelled when he or she goes out of business.

Carl Aron

Catonsville

Ginger Chiverals letter states: nowhere is any American granted freedom from religion. We are granted freedom of religion. There is a big difference.

There is a big difference but both are covered by the First Amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion... covers my freedom from religion. The later clause ... or prohibiting the free exercise thereof provides for freedom of religion.

I respect her right to practice her religion, and expect my right not to practice it to be honored as well.

But I think it is worthy of note that the Founding Fathers saw fit to suggest freedom from religion first.

George Taylor

Reisterstown

Enforcing the gun laws would make us safer

Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich was right on target in his letter regarding Project Exile (Tough enforcement of current gun laws can curtail crime, Nov. 8). The killing fields of Baltimore can be modified all city and state governments have to do is enforce the laws.

Instead they have emulated the Clinton administration in failing to enforce gun laws, while crying for more unnecessary regulations.

Isnt it high time The Sun opted to support effective law enforcement, rather than merely advocating additional laws that affect only the law-abiding citizen?

Wendell C. Harsanyi

Pasadena

In his recent letter, Taras A. Vizzi asks us to imagine going to the grocery store or your childs soccer game thinking that any adult might be carrying a gun (Fury of gun debate signifies nothing, Nov. 4).

In many states, any adult citizen without a criminal record can obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. In Florida, for example, hundreds of thousands of citizens have such permits.

I spend some time in Florida, and it doesnt seem people there are more reluctant to go to the grocery store or to childrens soccer games than they are here.

Robert M. Graham

Baltimore

Banning gas appliances could cut pollution

I was recently awakened to the multi-pitch drone of leaf-blowers clearing the front yard at 3900 N. Charles St.

This moderate annoyance reactivated a concern I have had for some time: The two cycle engines that power these machines, as well as lawn mowers, chain saws, snow blowers and other devices burn fuel very inefficiently and contribute to air pollution.

Air pollution is one of Baltimores problems. Perhaps Martin OMalley could take the lead in banning these engines.

Doing this could reduce our morbidity and mortality, and set a standard for other cities that also gag on bad air.

Rene J. Muller

Baltimore

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