Tuesday, 27 September 2011

We need a balanced debate about organ donation.

In Wales, nearly 300 people are waiting for an organ transplant, many through no fault of their own.

Which brings us on to the "controversial" issue of organ donation. Let me be clear as an atheist my thoughts on the matter are very simple.

When I die I'll no longer need my body or any of its parts. Therefore after my demise, if any of it could be used to enhance the lives of others, what's the problem? - especially if I'm to be cremated, isn't recycling the done things these days.

And that is why I'm a supporter of the "soft" opt out system. But what exactly would a "soft" opt out system of donation mean?

There would be a presumption that a person consented to organ donation on their death, unless they had indicated otherwise (opted out), or their relatives objected.

Which brings me on to some ill thought out comments made yet again by Rob Davies (The Daily Post's Outspoken columnist)

Putting aside the frankly ridiculous statement of "I suspect the drive to introduce presumed consent for organ donation in Wales is fuelled in part by the separatist agenda of Wales-isn't England' lobby".....he goes on to make factually incorrect statements, take for instance in his column of today in the Daily Post he states:

Take this scenario: a young man is fatally injured in a crash. His is not on the organ donor list but lives in Wales and so is presumed to have given consent to the removal of his organs. His distraught parents are duly informed that doctors are to take out his heart...etc...What will haunt them for ever more...that their son had never actively agreed [to organ donation].

But the above scenario is wrong, it would not happen.

In the first as is the practice today, their next of kin would need to be consulted before a decision could be made. As reported in the Telegraph: The new laws would still require doctors to consult with the relatives of the bereaved as part of a "soft" opt-out system.

Whereas today the relatives could agree to organ donation, even though the deceased person when alive objected to do so, it would be similar in a 'soft' opt out system. The relatives could object to the donation of organs, even if the deceased when alive had no such concerns. Or if they had any 'doubt' which would haunt them for ever more they could just say no.

In reality you are more likely to take action if you object to something, as opposed to those who don't think it matters. Let's be honest the vast majority of us are far more concerned about what's happening now, than whats occurring when were dead.

The Christian Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan says it has to be a choice "that is freely embraced".

Surely, if you decide not to opt out of the organ donation system, you have so to speak "freely embraced" the idea that on your death your organs could be used by others.

There could be a number of safeguard built in, your doctor, health nurse etc could easily explain to those who have not opted out the consequence of not doing so. I'm sure the church could also have a role.

At the end of the day it will still be a personal choice, you could always opt out.

Above all what is important is that we have a balanced debate, and using emotive language or spurious arguments, will not help at all.

9 comments:

The Red Flag said...

Personally I reckon it should be 'assumed consent' and everyone is opted-in. If you wish to opt out it should be on the strict understanding that you can't opt back in AND you cannot receive an organ should you ever need one.

Sounds severe but it's not when you think about it. Only selfish people would think they don't have to donate but can have if they need.

Anonymous said...

Your body and its component parts belong to you NOT the state.

Presumed consent or so called 'soft opt out' effectively transfers the ownership of your body and its organs to the State. The implications of this change go well beyond the debate you are presuming to have here.

Ice Cold in Alex said...

On death "ownership" of your body transfers to your family, whose consent would still be required.

Anonymous said...

>"On death "ownership" of your body transfers to your family, whose consent would still be required."

In that case, why doesn't the Assembly/Westminster/whoever simply pass a law requiring Doctors to ask the next of kin whether they would object to the deceased's organs being used?

But that's not what you are advocating. What you are arguing for is that people's bodys and organs should in effect become the property of the state upon death, which is definitely NOT the same thing.

I suggest you think over your views a little deeper before/if you respond.

The Red Flag said...

Tell me anon, when you've finished your piss-poor laughable UKIP-style Telegraph reader rant, are you a donor?

Do you believe that people who refuse to donate should be offered organs if they subsequently need them?

Exactly what use is a dead body to anyone other than the medical profession or composters?

Anonymous said...

Redflag --- the sign of losing an argument is resorting to ad hominem attacks. Also you specifically fail to answer the question I asked:

"why doesn't the Assembly/Westminster/whoever simply pass a law requiring Doctors to ask the next of kin whether they would object to the deceased's organs being used?"

…or would that undermine your 'argument'?

The Red Flag said...

Because - as anyone with even scant knwoledge knows - there is no need. Doctors already do that as a matter of course if the deceased died suddenly (car crashes etc) and is young enough. (old people and people who die of diseases etcc are not suitable material).

By the way, you never asked me the question - you asked Ice Cold In Alex. In addition your line "Your body and its component parts belong to you NOT the state." is not strictly true. Dead people own nothing. Incidentally, if you die in something like an accident and are collected from the scene and delivered to hospital you are actually the property of the health service until the NOK show up. Someone that looks a suitable donor is tissue-matched with the database straight away and the hospital can (and some do) remove organs ready for transplant and seek permission retrospevctively. If it isn't given they put the organs back with the corpse.

(Daughter is a Doctor - second year Registrar on her way to becoming neuro-surgeon).

Anonymous said...

>>>"Because - as anyone with even scant knwoledge knows - there is no need. Doctors already do that as a matter of course if the deceased died suddenly (car crashes etc) and is young enough. (old people and people who die of diseases etcc are not suitable material)."

In light of this, tell me why this change is needed then?

>>>"Dead people own nothing."

Really? So why do we make Wills then...?

The Red Flag said...

It's irrelevant legislation. It just makes something binding that's already taking place. Another classic example is Theresa May playing to the tory faithful by saying the HRA should be abolished. Won't actually make any difference. We are not only bound by the European Human Rights legislation that is applicable to all EU members, but we are also bound by the ECHR because we are part of the bigger Council of Europe.

Legislators have a habit of making irrelevant laws. We've got something like 17 different murder laws. Pointless being as you can only be murdered once. One law would deal with all of it.

As for a Will, that's to direct who your possesions should go to because you are dead. You no longer own them at that point - they are under the administration of the Executor or if intestate, the Crown until such time who now has ownership is established.