The Odd Blog

And when our cubs grow / We'll show you what war is good for

About freakin’ time…

Posted by That Other Mike on 13/01/2008

Via BBC News:

PM backs automatic organ donation

Gordon Brown says he wants a national debate on whether to change the system of organ donation.

He believes thousands of lives would be saved if everyone was automatically placed on the donor register.

It would mean that, unless people opted out of the register or family members objected, hospitals would be allowed to use their organs for transplants.

But some critics say the state should not automatically decide what happens to people’s bodies after they die.

Whatever the final decision is, there needs to be some kind of debate about this. The organ donor system is for ever teetering on the edge of disaster, and this is not a good way for it to be. Until we can start growing tailored clone organs on a large scale, there will have to be organ donors, and we need to be having some kind of dialogue about organ shortages.

Do the rights of people’s relatives override the rights of people who need those organs to live? I have to come down on the side of the opt-out system, tbh; if it’s a question of saving lives versus a minor infringement on property rights*, then saving lives should come first.

Also, given that 60% of people currently willingly become organ donors, how many more would willingly give their organs but don’t ever get around to filling in a donor card? I know I would willingly donate (being dead, I won’t miss it), but have never filled in a card.

Others, such as The Economist and the Ayn Rand Institute, have argued for compensated donations – basically, organ selling. Iran is currenly only country in the world which allows this, and its waiting list for kidneys is now non-existent. However, this does raise the issue of massive public health problems to come – the people who would most likely sell organs are the poor, and as a class, the poor suffer greater and more varied health problems than do the middle and rich classes. Plus, of course, if it becomes legal, there exists the possible problem of donations from people pressured or forced into it by relatives, or to pay off debts, or to placate a threatening person.

Presumed consent avoids that, and provides a useful measure of elasticity to a system while we get on and try to grow clone organs from scratch.

* Corpses are legally considered property.


One Response to “About freakin’ time…”

  1. I registered a number of years ago when there was a big(ish) round of publicity, but it seems hardly mentioned at all these days. The opt-out scheme makes sense, IMHO.

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