You know the joke about the two friends who are out hunting when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn't seem to be breathing. His friend calls 111 and gasps out his story.
"I think he’s dead! What can I do?"
The operator, in a calm soothing voice says: "Just take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead."
There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Then the voice comes back on the line. "OK, now what?"
I feel for everyone involved in the full page story this week in Le Monde entitled: The organ donor wasn't dead.
The 45-year-old man suffered a massive heart attack and rescuers used cardiac massage to try to revive him without success before transferring him to a nearby hospital.
Due to a series of complex circumstances, revival efforts continued for longer than usual for a patient whose heart was not responding to treatment, until doctors started preparations to remove organs.
It was at that point that the astonished surgeons noticed the man was beginning to breathe unaided again, his pupils were active, he was giving signs that he could feel pain - and finally, his heart started beating again.
Several weeks later, the man can walk and talk.
Such a dilemma: we have a huge demand for organ donors; you never want to turn the ventilator off too soon. The only comfort I find in this chilling tale is that such incidents are said to be rare.
Perhaps for, safety’s sake, you could add a rider to the document that declares your willingness to be an organ donor: Do resuscitate if at all possible and please keep trying for at least [insert number of hours here].