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To suggest people shouldn't be allowed donor organs unless they're registered organ donors themselves?

(233 Posts)
TM08 Mon 08-Oct-12 22:50:30

I had a conversation with my mum the other night, which has led on to me posting this thread.

She thinks that it might be possible to feel pain after death. She doesn't know what happens to our bodies, but she doesn't believe it's the end of us. For this reason, she wants cremated instead of buried, as she wouldn't want to be slowly eaten by worms for years after dying. Lovely.

Because of the pain after death thing, she doesn't want to be an organ donor. I asked "would you be happy to accept an organ if you needed one tomorrow?" and she said yes.

It just got me thinking how unfair this system is. People like my mum can get organs, but aren't willing to donate their own.

AIBU to think that if you are willing to accept an organ, you should be a registered organ donor yourself?

MrsBethel Wed 10-Oct-12 15:03:55

They've got a priority system in Israel, apparently.

Medical need is the first consideration, then after that it's whether or not you have been opted in for a certain period.

Seems fair enough to me.

Funily enough, they issued a fuck of a lot of new donor cards when they brought the system in, and transplant stats are up massively since.

EugenesAxe Wed 10-Oct-12 15:00:14

MrsBethel - good idea that one. Prevents waste and rewards those who give and take.

If it weren't for the fact that it is tantamount to emotional blackmail, I'd like to place at higher priority children that had been registered since birth (or within, say, one year of the announcement of a priority system), than children whose parents had opted them out...

To everyone who thinks/knows they have organs that would be rejected on medical grounds - you could still opt in. The powers that be would do their homework and just blacklist you, effectively, if it was necessary.

samandi Wed 10-Oct-12 14:53:44

MrsBethel - yes, that's rather silly.

MrsBethel Wed 10-Oct-12 14:39:34

Just read this comment. Jesus, how fucking childish.
Petty bullshit > Someone else's life or death?

An opt out, presumed consent, priority system would put paid to such nonsense. Some people are happy to put bullshit above the ilfe of another, but probably not their own life, I reckon.

Woozley Mon 08-Oct-12 22:56:20
I am on the donor register. But if the system changed to "opt out" rather than "opt in" I would opt out on principle, as it should be a "donation", not an obligation.

noddyholder Wed 10-Oct-12 14:38:08

The problem when it comes down to it is unless you have been so ill that you need an organ you can never really know what you would do. When you are well and healthy you can take whatever stance you like and be quite anti organ donation but your feelings may change should you need one. You are not rational at that stage so even though you may have spent years informing your close family that you don't believe in it etc you may not be able to uphold that stance once ill. This is why I think opt out would be a good system as just by a law of averages more people would an to live than die if they had the choice. If you would rather die than receive an organ because you don't believe in it then you can opt out. Morals and ethics really do go out the window though when you face death sad this is something you may find hard to believe if you have never been desperate

RandallPinkFloyd Wed 10-Oct-12 14:18:13

Wow, truly humbling stories thanks

I also wanted to add that if you do believe in a God, a one true entity who created all things, then surely He made this possible.

RandallPinkFloyd Wed 10-Oct-12 14:08:38

What I meant by my statement about agreeing with organ donation or not is that you either agree to both donate and receive or do neither. There si no room for a grey area in that in my eyes.

There is of course room for debate regarding whether or not you agree with organ donation as a whole but I don't think it's a conditional thing. In my opinion you can't agree with receiving but not agree with donating.

As many people have said all the way through the thread this has nothing to do with those who can't donate, just those that won't. (Not sure how many times that needs to be said)

I can completely understand that it can be a difficult decision, it's a horrible thought and of course it's understandable to be upset at the idea but for me logic always prevails.

But that is exactly why I believe in presumed consent and that an adult's wishes should be respected on death not that of their next of kin. The death of a loved one is imo not the right time to expect people to have to make this decision. It should be done while alive and of sound mind in the same way as you make a will.

As for my opinions on life after death and souls and such like, I honestly don't know. I find it very hard to believe in an after-life but I find it equally hard to believe that this is all there is.

What I do firmly believe however is that the body is merely a vessle, that you soul/essesnce/yourself is a completely separate thing.

My grandfather had a devastating stroke, as serious as you can survive. When I arrived at the A&E department I took one look at him and knew. He wasn't there any more, it was the eeriest thing I've ever experienced. He looked like my Grandad, but whatever it was that made him him had gone. And it wasn't because he couldn't speak or because he had no idea who we all were, it was much more basic than that. His body was very much alive, as healthy as it had been half an hour before, but it was like a light-switch had been flicked. His body lived for another 7 years but my grandad died the second that stroke hit.

It's impossible to describe and impossible to understand unless you've experienced it but it's just how it was.

clucky80 Wed 10-Oct-12 13:46:40

Jeee your post made me emotional, your sister sounds like she was an amazing person. I had a double transplant 5 years ago without which I would be surprised if I was still here today (or would certainly be blind, on dialysis, an amputee). To tell you the truth, the subject of organ donation had never really entered my head at the time when I was told that I needed a transplant when I was in my mid 20's. I think it is something that people put to the back of their heads and don't like to think about. Like someone said earlier though, statistically you are much more likely to need to receive an organ than ever donate one. I also think that there needs to be a lot more education around the subject of donation so that people are able to make an informed decision either on their own behalf or that of a loved one who may have never expressed their wishes. My donor was an amazing 19 year old boy who suffered a head injury, his mum chose to donate his organs on his behalf. I wrote to his mum 6 months after my transplant to try and express my gratitude for making such a difficult decision that ultimately saved my life. She wrote back and told me that after receiving my letter she knows that she made the right decision and that it comforted her so much to know that she was able to let my mum see me grow into adulthood. I had a 'miracle' baby 2 years ago, my DS is one of fairly few babies in the world born to someone after my kind of transplant. My Ds's middle name is in memory of my donor. When inwrote to my donor's mum to tell her about the birth of my Ds she told me that when she made her decision she had never thought that it may even enable the creation of new life. Not one day goes by when I don't think about my donor and his family, sometimes I worry so much that my DS will be taken away from me when he is young too as I've already had too much luck in my life by being given the gift of health from my donor. I push these thoughts out of my head though and I try to live every day to the max and I am seriously grateful for everything in life. I don't look too far into the future and I take and enjoy every day as it comes. Sorry I have gone on, I just want to give another point of view of a recipient - that organ donation can go on to having positive effects on so many people's lives.
All of my family are now organ donors and bone marrow donors. I have told my family that if any part of me can be used after my death (even if for medical science to help other people in the future) then please use it.

MrsBethel Wed 10-Oct-12 12:32:57

I can't believe they haven't switched it to an opt out system yet - it would save thousands of lives! Last time it was tried a bunch of doctors put together a report saying it would not help donor rates - what a bunch of cretins! A simple Venn diagram of people who a) want to donate, b) don't want to donate, c) don't care, demonstrates it would have to boost donation rates.

As for the OP, I don't quite agree. Suppose a person, let's call him George, is a touch selfish/deluded, and would rather his organs rotted in a hole in the ground after his death, rather than helped a number of people to live. Now, if an organ becomes available, and it can help George and no one else is a match - I'd still rather it was given to George than incinerated.

I'd go with an opt out system, and a priority system. Highest priority - kids, people who haven't opted out at any time in the last ten years. Lowest priority - people who have opted out.

Let's treat others how we expect to be treated ourselves.

GeorgianMumto5 Wed 10-Oct-12 12:22:25

Sorry OP, but YABU. What if you need an organ transplant because one of yours is knackered? Maybe you have an illness that means your organs aren't much cop. Who's going to want yours?

I can't donate blood, owing to health problems, but the same health problems mean that I am slightly more likely than the general population to need a blood transfusion (hasn't happened yet, thank goodness). It's not a huge leap to transer the same thinking to organ donation.

Have a heart, OP! (Pun intended.)

ReindeersGoldenBollocks Wed 10-Oct-12 12:17:32

Btw DS will never be able to donate his organs, due to the nature of his condition, but he will need them. It's not through selfishness, but pure medicinal reasons you wouldn't want DS's organs!. So it's not straight forward. Same for DH.

ReindeersGoldenBollocks Wed 10-Oct-12 12:14:42

DH didn't agree with donating his organs. Then he got renal failure.

Both my DH and MIL have needed organs. My son will one day need lungs and maybe liver/kidneys too. So it's obviously an issue close to my heart.

But I think actually we should educate people more and stop being afraid of talking about organ donation, because people don't want to talk about death. Not just education about the process but about the lives of those it saves.

There are many ideas people about around organ donation that puts them off, when the actual process doesn't contain some of the scary features (like doctors not saving your life due to wanting your organs).

I would prefer an opt out system, but equally do think that an individual has the final say over what happens - this also includes the overriding consent by families.

Latara Wed 10-Oct-12 12:02:20

I have met people with donated kidneys from dead or living donors who are having good lives now smile

An ex-boyfriend of my Mum actually donated one of his kidneys to his brother (as a living donor). The ex-boyfriend was aged 50 himself, so i think that's incredibly brave & selfless.
But it was his brother who he loved and wanted to help him survive; the ex-boyfriend has certain bad qualities towards my Mum before that; but his action in donating the kidney just shows that you never can know how people will behave.

Latara Wed 10-Oct-12 11:57:13

YABU purely because i take lots of medications that are incompatible with donating my blood, organs or bone marrow - so do lots of people; including, of course, those with organ failure!

YANBU for trying to think of ways to increase the organ donor register even if that's not quite the right way.

I don't follow an 'organised religion' but i am a spiritual person & i believe that while we are alive we should do our best, as humans, to help other humans. This includes joining the organ donor register if possible.

bubalou Wed 10-Oct-12 11:56:18

Sorry MaryZed - have been wanting to use purple unicorns on a thread for some time now smile

jeee Wed 10-Oct-12 11:55:47

For those readers who are at best ambivalent about organ transplantation would it help to read stories from those of us who know someone who's benefited, or indeed have themselves had a transplant?

I mentioned my sister earlier up the thread, but if I could I'd like to write a little how much she did after her transplant.

She had her first liver transplant in October 1999. Complications led to another transplant a month later in November. She got out of hospital at ht end of December, but following a multiple shunt on the motorway in the new year she was left with spinal cord damage, meaning she was a wheelchair user.

Despite this she managed to return to work. We don't know if she was the only physiotherapist in the country in a wheelchair, but she was certainly unusual. A couple of years after this she got her dream job working as a paediatric physio in a special school. She saw her wheelchair as an asset here, as she felt that she put out a positive message to the children she worked with.

In the meanwhile she became involved with disabled sport and eventually won a place in the GB paralympic squad for Beijing. She also 'profiled' other disabled athletes.

Unfortunately she rejected her liver in the summer of 2008, and as she did not get another liver died that year.

But because of the kindness, the overwhelming generosity of two bereaved families, she was able to do all this. She watched me marry, she loved my four children. She was godmother to her friend's children.

This is what transplantation gives.

MaryZed Wed 10-Oct-12 11:48:57

Ah now bubalou, bringing purple unicorns into it doesn't really help.

The way I look at it outraged is like this: if you aren't religious, the concept of body and soul and afterlife is so alien it isn't worth considering. You are a dead body, it doesn't matter if someone uses bits of you.

If you are religious/spiritual in any way, would God or any other power really "punish" you for doing something good to help someone else as your last act? If you are a believer in a God who would do such a thing, then he isn't really much of a loving God, is he?

So it's a win/win for donation, in my view.

EugenesAxe Wed 10-Oct-12 11:44:55

I just don't get people who'd opt out on principle, even when they are currently registered - the people needing the organs haven't made that ruling have they? If you're willing in any guise just let them be cut out FFS!

I agree that in principle it's a reasonable idea but in practice it would be hard to police. I'd just rely on karma.

Organ donation is about the only thing that keeps me going. If, God forbid, any of my DCs died in a freak accident, the fact that potentially six or seven other children would be given life or eyesight would be a wonderful comfort to me. I've seen a post mortem and your organs are just sewn into your cavity in a plastic bag; there's no comfort in my opinion keeping them with the body. That's just because I've met quite a lot of people that feel it's a violation of your body to have your organs removed. If anything, they'd treat you with more delicacy!

bubalou Wed 10-Oct-12 11:32:44

What if the soul stays til the blood is still pumping?

What if God is actually a purple unicorn who eats the souls of those who ever swore, lied or sent round spam emails?

What if? You'll never know and if there is something to know it will be too late.

I would happily give my organs if I died. I would be extremely grateful of the person that had donated their organ if myself or a family member ever needed one.

I don't understand the whole 'pain after death thing'. So sure about pain after death not to want to donate organs but happy to be cremated? confused

I honestly think it is selfish not to donate - that's my opinion.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 10-Oct-12 11:32:34

Hmm, yes, I suppose the soul would just leave afterwards.

Thank you. Your post has made me think.

I suppose I think that I'd want my soul, or that of my loved ones to leave while surrounded by loved ones and not on an operating table. But does it really matter? People die in all sorts of situations after all, there must be worse ways to go?

Those are not actual questions by the way, just my musings!

MaryZed Wed 10-Oct-12 11:21:37

Yes, the family will have hope. But after the last readings have been taken, the last medical decisions have been made and the diagnosis of "brain death" has been decided, the family will be informed, and still allowed to sit with the person, with the machines still moving blood around the body etc. They will be given time to get used to the idea, and then the suggestion of donation will be made.

If the person is to donate, the machines will just be kept going a bit longer than if they aren't.

Either way, if the soul leaves the body at the time of brain death it will be gone before the body "dies". If it doesn't leave the body until the blood stops pumping, it will leave when the blood stops pumping after the organs are removed.

So, logically, it makes no difference.

It is very, very different from someone being old and sick and dying naturally. You wouldn't find a dying person suddenly put on a machine purely to harvest organs. That doesn't happen. Though I think some body parts (not whole functioning organs) (skin, cornea, heart valves etc) can be taken after death, but that is completely different.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 10-Oct-12 11:16:22

Thank you, I understand that explanation much better! smile

In situations like that though, until the doctors declare a death, the family are still going to have hope that their loved one will live, even when they are aware of the reality. And at times the hope that is felt during that time is not in vain, as people do recover (at least partially) after horrific RTAs. The person is being kept alive for their own reasons, not those of someone else.

While the soul, if it exists, may have left the body, what if it hasn't? What if it stays until blood isn't pumping any more?

MaryZed Wed 10-Oct-12 11:07:03

It does, honestly.

If you get a young person who has been in a car accident and has come into hospital with a massive brain injury, they will be put on a machine to breathe and to pump blood around, and then put into a chemically induced coma while they do scans etc.

They then test for brain activity over a period of time. And then a number of doctors have to independently verify that there is no brain activity. Then they talk about donation. But often the person has been brain dead for some hours (but kept "alive" on a machine" before donation is even considered

A young friend of ds's was in a car accident, and it was three days before he was officially declared dead, even though everyone knew his injuries weren't compatible with life. His parents bravely made the decision to donate his organs, and he donated to 8 different recipients.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 10-Oct-12 11:05:21

It's entirely up to you what choice you make but I stand by my opinion that if you disagree with donation you disagree with it full stop.

Then your opinion is wrong. As with any ethical debate, there are grey areas.

Also I certainly do not have to respect your opinion, I only have to respect your right to hold that opinion. Very different things.

Yes, they are different things. The latter is fine by me.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Wed 10-Oct-12 11:02:47

Thank you for the replies. I cross posted.

PinkFloyd, I'm not sure the specific information is there, I have read the NHS website, but there would always be questions because the circumstances of every death is different.

This is what adds to my discomfort.

As far as I know (and I'm sure someone medically qualified will come along), your body would remain on a machine which would breathe for you and pump blood around your body while decisions were made. You body might actually be kept in this state for a while, even if you weren't donating, as they want to be very sure that you are brain dead, so it might be 24 or 48 hours after loss of brain function before your body would "die" anyway.

It sounds odd to me that a body would be kept in a certain state for a while just to make sure that you are really brain dead. I'm not sure that it even does work like this. If they aren't 100% sure that the person was brain dead then I don't think they would be talking about whether organs were suitable for transplant or not. Would they?

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