How do you feel about your heart? How attached are you to it? Can you see yourself heading into the next world with it still intact inside your chest?
What about your lungs? Your kidneys? Your corneas, liver, pancreas…?
Are you so attached to your organs that you can’t see them ever leaving your body, even after death?
It’s a question that drifts to the surface of our national consciousness from time to time and there has been a couple of attempts at legislating the organ donation system in our country. As it stands at the moment we have to sign up on the organ donation register in order that our organs may be used for others after our death and there are moves to make it an opt out system as it is in several countries in Europe. In those “presumed consent” countries, there is some of the highest organ donation in the world. We in the UK sadly lag far behind them.
There is some concern that even though we may have registered ourselves onto the organ donation database, the final say of what happens to our organs after we die lies with our relatives. And that is even when the organs are entirely usable and are desperately needed. If there was presumed consent, ie and opt-out, system in place here then it would remove so much of the heartache and soul searching that goes on by relatives when faced with the question of giving their consent to have their loved one’s organs transplanted.
There have been efforts to transform our cultural attitudes towards organ donation – discussion is encouraged in families with campaigns and discussion groups etc, and there is going to be a nationwide television campaign later this month to encourage people to talk about it more freely and to understand what the whole issue of organ donation is all about. There are also drives now and again to get people to carry an organ donation card with them, but it still seems to be a taboo subject for most people.
My personal feelings are that if there is any part of me that is usable for anyone else after I die then they are more than welcome to use it. I have talked about it with my husband and my kids, and I don’t want them to ever have to be in the situation where they have to ask themselves “what would Mum want us to do?” if I end up in the situation where it is an issue. I want them to know that the decision is made, and all they have to do is say yes to the doctors. That is presuming there’s any part of me that’s actually useful when I die!
I want to know how it is for you and where you live. How are things in your country? Is there presumed consent for organ donation, or do you have to register on a database and consent is given by your relatives? Do you have a cultural attachment to your organs that prevent you from donating them after your death? How do you feel about sharing your no-longer needed organs after you have finished with them? Are they something you take with you into the next world, or are they yours until death do you part?
As ever, your comments and discussion would be gratefully received.
If you want to know more about organ donation in the UK, please click here for details.