Breaking The Organ Transplant Logjam

You know, a few years back I had a step-brother die while he was waiting for an organ donation, and it was amazing to me, that in these days and times, we still have people dying every year waiting for organ transplants. In July of this year, we had 86,077 people, many of poor health, waiting to get organs. Since 1999, 6,000 people a year have died because they’ve been unable to get organs.

So what’s the solution? The Brits, who have the same problem we do except on a smaller scale, have an idea

“The British Medical Association is calling for an urgent overhaul in the law that surrounds donation, urging the government to accept their argument that “presumed consent” is the only way to reverse the current shortage.

This would mean that the onus is on an individual to sign a form saying they refuse permission for their organs to be used for transplants when they are dead.

If the form is not signed, the organs can then be used by surgeons in transplant operations.

The Scottish Executive dropped a proposal to introduce a scheme of presumed consent in Scotland, which had been proposed by the Ochil MSP Dr Richard Simpson.

The British Medical Association wants a “soft” system of presumed consent in which relatives’ views are also taken into account.

Instead of being asked to consent to donation, they would be informed that their relative had not opted out of donation and, unless they objected, the donation would proceed.

But in June, an attempt to make organ donation automatic unless people opted out, thus increasing the number of organs available, was defeated at Westminster when Labour ordered its back-benchers to vote it down.”

In good conscience, I can’t support “presumed consent”. Even after you die, you, not the government should decide what happens to your body unless there are unusual circumstances.

However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing that can be done. In fact, given that we’re a nation of roughly 300 million people and there are less than 100,000 people waiting, it should be EASY to make up the shortage. How about a small tax break for signing up for organ donations? For a donor’s organ to be given away after death, his family has to approve. Sometimes they don’t agree to the person’s wishes or it takes too long to find a family member (there’s a limited window in which to act with organ donations). How about dropping that requirement? The person, not their family, should ultimately decide what happens to their domains.

Another possibility is setting up a fund to pay the families of organ donors. Even at $5,000 a pop you could cover 86,000 donors for less than half a billion and that might not be necessary given that a single person can give away multiple organs. Furthermore, once we chewed through the backlog, the number of donors needed would drop significantly. A big advertising campaign might even be enough to convince a large enough group of people to sign-up to alleviate the shortage. We have Mother’s Against Drunk Driving, right? Why not, Mothers for Organ Donation?

Personally, I’m signed up to be a donor and I think it’s a shame that so many people in this country die needlessly after sometimes suffering for years, all because they don’t have an organ none of us are going to need after we’re dead. This is a solvable problem that can be addressed in a lot of different ways and I for one wish more people would publicly step up to the plate and talk about it. That may be all it takes to start solving the problem. After all, it’s not like you’re going to need your organs after you pass on…

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