Organ donation

As you may know, I enjoy taking part in discussions in online forums (fora?), and the dish of the day is organ donation, or more specifically recent suggestions for an ‘opt-out’ system. There are currently 14.9 million people on the organ donor’s register, out of a population of 60 million in the UK. The suggestion is that instead of choosing for your organs to be donated after you die, everyone is assumed to want to donate their organs to be donated, unless they fill in a form to say they don’t.

At first glance it seems like a great idea, more organs would still be donated despite the apparent laziness and apathy of the general public, but there’s still a way to opt out if you want to. But then it was illustrated in a different way.

I don’t think anyone would deny that your body and organs are your own property. But if it’s assumed that you want to give your organs once you die, then your organs are seen as the property of the state, unless you ask for them back. It shouldn’t be up to the state what happens to your organs once you die.

But I suppose you could look at that argument the other way around too. Just as someone who doesn’t want their organs donated could have them taken away because they’ve forgotten to fill in the form to opt out, there may be people now who want to donate their organs but haven’t got round to filling the form in, so their organs won’t be used in the way they wanted either. That would go against their wishes just as much as someone who doesn’t want to donate having their organs taken would.

To be perfectly honest though, I can’t think of a single justifiable reason why someone wouldn’t want to donate their organs after they die. It’s just plain selfish. You don’t need those organs after you die, but they could be life-saving to someone else suffering a painful condition. Even from most religious perspectives (which I obviously wouldn’t call ‘justifiable’ anyway), after you die the body is separate from the soul, so it doesn’t matter if your organs aren’t there. Some people say that they don’t like the idea of being chopped up, but you’ll be dead, so you won’t even be there! It is the height of selfishness to deny someone else life when it is practically no effort on your part.

So what’s the best way to approach the situation? Should we be making organ donation the norm, legally, despite claims that it’s eroding civil liberties, or should we focus on advertising so that people are more aware that they should be putting themselves on the register?

There’s a balance between the 2 situations. Either way there are lots of people in the middle who don’t care one way or the other about what happens to their organs after they die. Surely we should make it that if people don’t care, then their otherwise useless bodies are used for the greater good?

I’m for it.


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