The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

June 12, 2014

Readers' Forum 6-12 | Much wrong with organ procurement bill

JOHNSTOWN — The Pennsylvania State Coroners Association is writing regarding the June 3 article “Many are waiting for Donate Life PA Act” by Michael Baker, former Indiana County coroner.

Coroners support organ donation. Denials by coroners because it will interfere with a criminal investigation into cause and manner of death, according to national statistics on organ procurement, amount to 0.00005 percent of donations denied.

Some of the more disturbing provisions in the bill would:

-- Deny families the ability to determine what happens to their loved ones upon death;

-- Allow the determination of whether you are “dead enough” for organ harvesting to be made by multibillion dollar companies who make up to $2 million dollars from your body parts;

-- Not change the practice of throwing away, on average, 30 percent of the organs taken from loved ones, which are then disposed of as medical waste or into landfills;

-- Deny coroners and other law enforcement officials the ability to collect evidence in cases of child abuse and murder;

-- Deny individuals who are terminally ill their right to end medical care;

-- Take individuals who are dying from their families and move them to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.

When nothing is preventing organ donation from occurring now or from happening every day in Pennsylvania, why would coroners abandon the constituents they are elected to serve and support a harmful bill just so it can be said it was passed this summer?

Susan M. Shanaman

Pennsylvania State Coroners Association Legislative Liaison, Harrisburg

Middle school holds many fond memories

It was recently announced that the Westmont Hilltop Middle School will be shut down in favor of reconsolidating the grades to the high school and elementary school. For the thousands who spent a good portion of their childhood there, its closing signals the end of an era almost a century in the making.

I'm fond of my years in the Westmont Hilltop school system, but my most nostalgic memories lie within that old building. The passionate teachers who sparked imaginations, the excellent administrators who acted with understanding, the classmates who made it a time worth remembering. Who could forget the teen night dances and those glorious May afternoons during track and field week?

The middle school liberated us from the marching lines of the elementary school, and shielded us from the vices that plague the last act of adolescence. Looking back, I grow more appreciative of all those teachers, principals, secretaries, chaperones and people who made that time period possible. They made that place come alive, and used it to shelter us from the stormier weather our country was going through. The middle school gave my classmates and me, and anyone who went through it, a little more time to enjoy such warm, innocent days.

Its closing is a painful reminder not of politics, but of time’s merciless winds. Few great things last forever. I’m thankful I was there, and for all the wonderful people who made it so memorable. It will always hold a strong sanctuary in my heart.

Tom Getty

Johnstown

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