The novel ‘Coma” by author Robin Cook was quite a sensation in the 70’s. It is a story about organ theft.
Organ theft followed by organ traffic is a very real crime. To put it simply, criminals procure human organs for transplantation illegally and then sell them on the black market to people who need them.
Transplant, the surgical replacement of a diseased human organ by an organ donor is a miracle of modern science. Sadly, some people have turned it into a lucrative business.
Robin Cook uses this as the basis of his story. The story is about a crooked surgeon and his henchmen. They have an operation theatre where they induce coma in patients who are anaesthetized for various operations. The coma is induced by switching the oxygen supply for carbon monoxide for a certain time .
When they recover from the anaesthesia after surgery, these unfortunate patients do not regain consciousness. They are moved in their brain dead state to an Intensive Care facility called the Jefferson Institute.
The story gets even more macabre as we discover that the comatose patients at the Institute are kept there for use of their organs. When a potential “buyer” turns up, organs are ‘harvested” from these unfortunates who will never recover from their coma.
In 1973, when the book was first published, it seemed to be science fiction. Since then various incidents of organ trafficking have occurred around the world and continue to occur to this day.
In some countries, people living below the poverty line sell their organs on the black market. There are reports of villages where several residents have only one kidney, having sold the other. Reports exist about criminal surgeons who “steal” healthy organs from patients undergoing surgery like removal of an appendix.
What was merely a thriller or detective story once, exists as true crime today. Of course these dark deeds are successful mainly in countries that do not have effective law enforcement.
This issue highlights the need for effective legislation and a code of ethics for scientific breakthroughs. When Alfred Nobel invented dynamite he did not intend using it as a means for killing people.
Coma by Robin Cook has been adapted for the big screen in as well as for a mini series.
To read more about Coma by Robin Cook, click here.
Sadje who blogs at Keep It Alive has written about Coma by Robin Cook too. You can read her post here.
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Written for FOWC with Fandango— coma.
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