Organ Donation – Let’s Talk!
My thoughts on the proposed ‘Opt-out’ system for organ donation.
- 3 people die everyday waiting for a donor organ.
- The government now have the opportunity to change the current system.
- If we get it right, those extra 3 lives a day could be saved.
What is happening?
The Government has launched a consultation about organ and tissue donation. This is because they intend to change the organ donation system to an ‘opt-out’ system.
Belief – ‘Opt-out’ means we don’t have to do anything, sign anything or tell anyone. Doctors can just take my organs if I die’
Fact – If we did have an opt-out system in the UK it would be a ‘soft’ opt-out. This means that although the presumption is that all organs can be used, if the next of kin doesn’t agree, or indeed is not aware of the deceased persons wishes, they have the option to withdraw consent, proving that the most important part of the puzzle of ensuring that conversations between family members are encouraged and noted.
I’m a heart patient. If things don’t go well for me, I may need a transplant, if things go very wrong for me, I will become a donor.
I’m told almost daily, that as a heart patient myself, I surely must agree that the opt-out system has to be the answer, because everyone’s organs can be used without their consent, right? Wrong!
The most important part of this scenario is encouraging the conversation between family members so that everyone is fully aware of each other’s wishes in the event of their death. Remember, it is the family members who give consent at the time of death.
So, how do we encourage more people to have the conversation and make sure that the right people know their wishes.
Sadly, having an ‘opt-out’ system does nothing to encourage people to have the conversation – indeed, it means people assume that it is all taken care of and is out of their hands anyway – therefore I believe that less conversations will be had. My research proves this.
By implementing a ‘Mandatory Decision Process’ for organ donation, every citizen in the UK will have to make a conscious decision about whether or not they wish to become an organ donor at the time of their death.
The majority of people, at some stage, apply for a driving license and/or adult passport. At the point of application, I want it to be mandatory that each applicant also has to tick 2 boxes. One to state that it has been discussed with a next of kin and the second box to sign up to the register or decline.
Of course some people will simply tick the boxes, not discuss with family members or be affected in anyway by where they place their tick, but I do believe in the decency of the majority of our community and I know that many households, like mine, will see this decision making process as a rite of passage, part of coming of age and be privileged to have the potential to be a hero.
80% of the population has the intention of signing the register to become an organ donor, yet only about 40% of the population has actually got around to doing it. That tells me only 40% of the population has properly discussed it.
The majority of the people that do sign up, do so through DVLA when they apply for their driving license.
So why wouldn’t we expand on this success and make it a mandatory decision making process?
Right now, we have an opportunity to make a change in the way we approach organ donation anyway – why therefore, are we looking at going in half-heartedly with a ‘soft opt-out’ approach this isn’t proven to raise the numbers of transplants and certainly doesn’t encourage more people to have the conversation.
I’m not suggesting that anyone is forced to become a potential donor, freedom of choice is key, but I am saying that I believe we should all, through legislation; make a decision after having the conversation.
This isn’t legislation that will be criminally enforced.
However, a driving license or passport application can only be considered for approval once this process has been completed.
If you support my beliefs and want to encourage the best, most robust system for the UK regarding organ donation, please add your signature to this petition:
Please share and discuss with family and friends – my great fear is that the government will go with the ‘easiest’ option and our opportunity to make proper life-saving changes will be lost.
In any event, the more we discuss this matter the better. 3 more lives will be lost today.
While consultation and legislation happens, it is still important to discuss your thoughts with loved ones and sign the register. It just takes 2 minutes.
This petition will be handed in on 6th March 2018 when consultation ends.
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