More research needed on newborn donorsAs chairman of the...


February 12, 1996

More research needed on newborn donors

As chairman of the American Medical Association's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, I was somewhat amazed by the tone of Dr. Katherine Dowling's Jan. 24 commentary, ''Slaughtering babies ethically.''

Let me state upfront that the goal of CEJA's June 1994 opinion on the use of anencephalic neonates as organ donors was to save the lives of babies. In her piece, Dr. Dowling failed to comment on the number of critically ill newborns that are dying each day because of the lack of compatible donors for needed transplants, or, as Dr. Dowling prefers, ''body parts.''

The reasons given by Dr. Dowling for CEJA's suspending its opinion on this issue were not totally accurate. The emergence of a ''host of other humans at risk for dismemberment'' from this opinion is a fragile argument at best and was rejected by the council. The comments from the neurological community on the true level of consciousness carried the most influence on our decision.

Dr. Dowling failed to give any details of our opinion. Only a correctly diagnosed anencephalic (which incidentally was not made in the dramatic example of the infant with a brain cyst observed during her training) could be a candidate. More importantly, the whole process would have to be initiated by the parents who are seeking to salvage some good from this tragedy.

Needless to say, the council has demonstrated its desire to respond to reasoned thinking on this position. We have challenged the scientific community to do further investigations into the level of consciousness which may be present in the true anencephalic.

It is my hope that Dr. Dowling's energies will be utilized in areas of her expertise to help solve the abysmal shortage of transplantable organs.

!Charles W. Plows, M.D.


No new term for Henson

Between policies and practices of the city housing commissioner and the activities of his housing inspectors, Baltimore is taking a terrible beating. Especially East Baltimore.

With this latest scandal, I'm sure Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III is "outraged." That's the same reaction he had when The Sun brought to light the huge number of Section 8 houses within a square mile here in East Baltimore.

It is the citizens of Baltimore who should be outraged at the way this administration seems to be tearing down the community. Many of us have invested our life savings in our homes, as well as time and effort to improve our neighborhoods. Now we watch in horror as each new impropriety comes to light, finding out that those in authority are responsible for much of the blight.

The Sun should be applauded for tackling this subject. However, now that these terrible problems and the city's complete lack of oversight of the housing department have been made public, Commissioner Henson needs to be removed and not reconfirmed at his Feb. 14 hearing. And Mayor Kurt Schmoke needs to make sure his replacement is someone who can work for the city, not against it.

Impartial review of the city's oversight procedures is also needed to make sure there are no other areas where such dreadful conflicts of interest are taking place -- and to insure that this kind of injustice does not happen to our city again.

Madelaine Fletcher


Housing inspectors and property owners

Recent articles have referred to implementation by the city director of housing code enforcement, Bob Dengler, of an ''unofficial policy permitting housing inspectors to own rental property."

The fact is, however, the city housing department has never, to my knowledge, had a policy prohibiting such ownership by inspectors or any other personnel.

As far back as the 1970s, when I served as chief of a city housing office which had responsibility for code enforcement, there were inspectors, rehab loan estimators and others who owned investment property.

They were merely required to disclose the ownership and property addresses, and we were careful to assign employees to geographic areas where they had no ownership interests. They were, of course, expected to maintain their property in accordance with the housing and building codes.

I have known Bob Dengler for over 20 years. He is a smart, honest, adept manager and a very dedicated housing professional. It is distressing to see it suggested that he unilaterally decided upon and implemented an ill-considered policy when a simple investigation would show this not to be true.

JoAnn Copes


Human service losses outweigh stadium gain

Gov. Parris Glendening's cutting of 1,000 state jobs will have an adverse economic and social impact on the state.

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