The Tyranny of Opt-Out Organ Donation

Will change to organ donor rules mean more transplants?

This isn’t a religious issue, I know it can be but for me it transcends all of that and it one about what can and can’t be done to an individual’s body.

There is the inescapable squeamish aspect to all of this, you need to be “kept alive” in order to have your organs harvested, even the word harvested isn’t probably the nicest description and then there is the fear that somehow signing up will almost tempt fate; “today I signed up to donate my organs, I feel good about myself, what are those people shouting, oh it appears that in my day-dreaming about my saintliness I’ve wandered into oncoming traffic.”

Also, the organs needing to be transplanted need to be in some form of good nick to start with, no point in transplanting a heart that’s had 50 years of use and abuse already put on it.

Simply put, my body, my rules, whether I’m dead and my organs are “of no further use to me” is neither here nor there, I’ll make the choice what happens, just like I make funeral plans and a will and wanting to simply be put out with the rest of the garden waste in the green bin.

People get a bit to precious about altruism, as if somehow this will simple nudge people into signing up (which is probably the intention) and that somehow if you don’t sign up (or indeed opt-out) you are hereby not eligible to receive anything in return should you need, its like kids only sending Xmas cards to those they got them off initially.

Then there is the whine about who ends up receiving the organs in the first place.  I remember legendary footballer George Best, he had done so much running around in his youth he’d developed a thirst* and as such had knackered his liver, developed jaundice and got a new one.

This is when you realise that as much as people apparently love the NHS like it’s a religion, there should always be some “buts” to the treatment some can receive and as much as I may preach about personal responsibility, while this is the structure of the UK health service, that is the way things will be.

The thing I find most galling about all of this and the holier-than-thou attitude of some is when it comes to blood donations.

You can’t transplant organs without blood.  You can’t really do much without blood and yet only about 6% of the eligible population of the UK actually donate.

The logic to some people’s argument is that they should never receive blood transfusions and basically every 3 months, wherever they are, whatever they are doing, a needle should be stuck into them and a pint of the red stuff withdrawn regardless.

Altruism when dead is one thing, people just seem to have a problem with it when their organs are still functioning.


The flip side to all of this is that I also think, if a person has signed up then no one should have a veto over the removal of their organs, it really is all about an individual’s own choice.


Thanks for reading.


*credit to Mrs Merton/Caroline Aherne, sadly missed.


2 thoughts on “The Tyranny of Opt-Out Organ Donation

  1. I think people would have a different viewpoint on this one if someone they loved and careed about was going through the daily misery that is dialysis, waiting for a kidney. If you’re dead, you’re dead. Let someone else live.

    • You’ve either not read the above piece or have chosen to ignore it. I’m well aware of the arguments, well the one argument, which you’ve detailed it all its wonderful emotional sense. This is just a different perspective.

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