Gift of Life

To me there is no greater gift than giving someone a chance at life which they wouldn’t have had.

And one of the ways that anyone can do it is through organ donation.

A Bill passed last night making Wales the first British Country to run an opt out system of organ donation. From now on, it is implied that all people have provided permission for organ donation and those who don’t wish to donate must state specifically that they do not. They must carry an “Anti-Organ Donation Card” if you will.

I approve of this. I think organ donation should be run via an  opt out system rather than an opt in system. At any point 3 people a year die from the lack of organs. My aunt was one of them. The match with her new Kidney was not a good one but it was the only shot they had.

If we had to make the decision again, I am sure my aunt would take the risk.

An increase in the number of organs is a good thing. Many people agree with donation but fail to get the cards or sign on to the register, many people sign on to the register only to be taken off by family members. An opt out system would get the minority who do not wish to donate out of the system far more easily than the majority who wish to do this.

Naturally there has been opposition…

So who could find fault with a law that makes altruism easier? That gives those desperate for life an unused part of the dead and a second chance?

Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders (Hindu leaders still are trying to boost donations)…

‘If the Bill does not respect either the consent of the deceased or of their family, there is a real risk of this legislation backfiring as people feel pressurised by the state and withdraw from donation.” – CARE

I think CARE (A Christian Charity) are foolish. The law is simple. You don’t like donating organs? You sign the register and they don’t take your organs. Everyone else is a donor. If not donating means that much that you are willing to argue against the law then you have the time to sign the damn register.

And I will say this. There are Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus on the waiting list for new organs. Isn’t it right to try and give them a chance at life or must we claim that we are the source of all morality  but refuse one of the most simple ways we can all save lives.

Shame on the people who used religious arguments to oppose this.


  1. AsqJames says

    I agree with all of this, and bravo to the Welsh Assembly. I think it’s important to point out one thing though –

    From now on, it is implied that all people have provided permission for organ donation and those who don’t wish to donate must state specifically that they do not.

    It’s not quite “all people”, it’s all Welsh resident adults who die in Wales. Children (who can neither give nor withhold consent) and tourists aren’t included. I haven’t checked the language of the bill, but I’d hope there are also exceptions for vulnerable adults (e.g. those with learning difficulties) who cannot reasonably be expected to sign up to the “count-me-out” register.

  2. francesc says

    “…who cannot reasonably be expected to sign up to the “count-me-out” register”
    I’m not sure I understand your reasoning here. We should be careful towards people with learning difficulties because someone could profit from their lack of understanding and inflict damage upon them. Ok. But in this case, what damage could be inflicted over an already dead body? Am I missing something and welsh government can extract an organ from you while you are still breathing?

  3. AsqJames says

    No, there is no potential for damage to the deceased individual, but there is potential for emotional damage to their loved ones. In many ways (rightly or wrongly) the state already treats people with learning difficulties as children. If we’re excluding children why not this group of people we treat as children in other ways?

    My family would know full well I could competently express a wish for my organs not to be used if I wanted to (they actually know I’m fine with it). The families of people with learning difficulties might not know that, and I think their feelings should be taken into account.

    On a practical level, I suspect excluding vulnerable adults will prevent fewer life-saving transplants than excluding children will. I would hope that, over time, organ donation will become more common and more accepted and as a result a higher percentage of the families of both children and vulnerable adults will give consent.

  4. Pen says

    I like this law and hope we see it in England soon. I would imagine that children can still become donors but that consent would be sought from their parents if they die, or an opt-in system would continue (but it’s the parents who sign them up, as now). I would imagine something similar would apply to adults who can’t make decisions about their own health care but I don’t know for sure.

  5. says

    There are no reasonable grounds for refusing to donate organs after death. It is simply an act of mean-spiritedness from beyond the grave. Living people have rights; pieces of meat do not. And to burn or bury a resource that could potentially have saved one or more human lives is simply obscene.

    If they are going to make a mockery of the whole point of a donor register by continuing to ask the relatives of the deceased for consent to reuse organs, then they should ask them right in front of someone who is dying for want of a transplant. Let them see the true human cost of a “no” answer with their own eyes.

    At the very least, if anyone opts out of donation, then in the name of fairness they should automatically be barred from receiving a transplant.

    It’s not about “the state owning your body” (despite having left you alone most of your life and even provided you with useful stuff like paved roads, sanitation, education, the NHS, the police, the fire brigade and so forth). It’s about doing the right thing by other human beings, by allowing them to make use of something you no longer need.

  6. says

    The way you remember it is this. People who cannot donate organs are CHUMPS!

    Cytomegalovirus, HIV, Uncontrolled Infection (Sepsis), Metastasis, Past History of Malignancies

    These are absolute.

    Then there are risk assessed donations (LIPHEADs)

    Localised tumours (kidney, prostate)
    Treated Infections of Systemic Nature
    Malignancy with a long cancer free interval
    Elderly Donations (the organ is prone to failure)
    Acute Renal Failure
    Diabetes Mellitus

    These are excellent reasons to opt out of donation. In fact if you are honest about these I salute you. You are saving lives through optiing out of donation or exercising caution. Mainly because these groups of ppeople OFTEN need organs themselves.

    We understand it’s a hard decision to make. In fact in some parts of the world we allow the families to meet after they “agree” to transplant organs. In parts of China there are ceremonies to thank organ donor parents and I know that some universities in Europe hold services for those who donate organs.

    Opt in systems are great but you still need to treat organ donation with the sort of heroic respect in order to make it normal.

    There is one other place where organ donation models work in a different way. We must go to Iran for this. Iran allows you to pay for organ donation. The money goes to the family of the donor. (You cannot donate live organs outside the family remember, Liver and Kidney transplants are best “in family”). This has effectively eliminated organ donor lists since families have a financial incentive to donate now. And the market then fell out of the transplant system since it’s only Iranian to Iranian donation so there is no organ tourism going on.

    The only problem I can see here is the possible abuse for donation of Kidneys (Since you can live with one) but that’s really it. It’s actually LESS of a bullshit system than the US one where voluntary organ donation has a level of monetisation due to middle man brokers.

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