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To really not understand why people do not join the organ donation register?

(277 Posts)
3littlefrogs Thu 11-Apr-13 22:18:39

I have been registered since I passed my driving test nearly 40 years ago. If I am dead I won't need my organs. They could save someone else's child, wife, husband, sister, brother.

RevoltingPeasant Thu 11-Apr-13 22:27:17

Me neither, although I have also thought of donating my haggard old corpus to a medical school for students to dissect.

Although, something gave me pause today: there was a woman on Radio 4 talking about why she didn't donate her baby's organs when he died. The baby was on life support and she said something like, 'When they take him down to theatre for that, you know then it's definitely over.'

This is a bit horrible, but....if something is on life support.... does harvesting their organs basically kill them? I would never have thought this but didn't really know how else to interpret what she said.

3littlefrogs Thu 11-Apr-13 22:31:51

There are very strict rules and stringent tests that have to be carried out before organs are harvested.

I worked on a renal dialysis unit as a student. It made a huge impression on me and I have never forgotten it. It was about the time I was learning to drive, and when I got my licence there was a form to complete. I didn't hesitate,. I have recently updated my registration.

I have just seen an item on the news about a young woman who died recently while waiting for a lung transplant. So sad. sad

HollyBerryBush Thu 11-Apr-13 22:32:26

In this country you are clinically dead before they take the organs.

Harvesting is when you take them from a live person - as they do in China.

The time frame is very small though from death to taking the organs. Also you have to factor in medication, health issues, disease and so forth.

I'd be interested to know how many donors are actually accepted.

Sirzy Thu 11-Apr-13 22:35:21

When I am dead they can have any part of me that can help someone else!

CarpeVinum Thu 11-Apr-13 22:37:55

I think perhaps it the having to consider dying rather than the resultant harvesting for a lot ofmpeople.

Which is why I think an opt out system is better.

Anybody really not keen can say "hands off" and everybody else can avoid thinking about dying while still making their organs availble should the worst happen.

The above therory may be coloured by the fact that where I live talking about dying is practically an invitation for death to knock on your door. I had a fun afternoon going over our life insurance policies and wills with a DH who was so focused on making the sign of the horns and grabbing his balls (to ward off bad luck) at regular intervals that it is a miricle we got through it without him pulling a muscle.

Chinateacup Thu 11-Apr-13 22:38:38

I am registered as a donor. Although I have never until now thought about the harvesting. I guess that if you are on life support until harvested then that must make it much harder for those present who are left behind to accept the finality. Gosh. <Off to cogitate>

Chinateacup Thu 11-Apr-13 22:39:42

Clearly uninformed on this ...

HollyBerryBush Thu 11-Apr-13 22:40:18

I'll rephrase that. I wonder how many willing donors are actually suitable in the event of death. Very few I would have thought.

Off to google some statistics:


Transplants save lives

In the UK between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012:
•3,960 organ transplants were carried out, thanks to the generosity of 2,143 donors.
•1,107 lives were saved in the UK through a heart, lung, liver or combined heart/lungs, liver/kidney or liver/pancreas transplant.
•2,846 patients' lives were dramatically improved by a kidney or pancreas transplant, 173 of whom received a combined kidney/pancreas transplant.
•A further 3,521 people had their sight restored through a cornea transplant.
•A record number of 674 kidney transplants from donors after circulatory death took place and accounted for one in four of all kidney transplants.
•1,009 living donor kidney transplants were carried out accounting for more than a third of all kidney transplants. 'Non-directed' living donor transplants (also known as altruistic donor transplants) and paired and pooled donations contributed more than 80 kidney transplants between them.
•Almost 942,000 more people pledged to help others after their death by registering their wishes on the NHS Organ Donor Register, bringing the total to 18,693,549 (March 2012).

All statistics we produce and publish undergo a rigorous validation process to ensure, as far as possible, that information is factually accurate.

RevoltingPeasant Thu 11-Apr-13 22:42:50

So... sorry, a bit fick - if you are on life support they basically turn it off and take you immediately down to theatre? So you are dead?

Or they leave it on but as you are clinically dead anyhow it doesn't matter?

frogs yes I have problematic kidneys and it does make you think....

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Thu 11-Apr-13 22:42:56

How do you go about joining? I've always meant to for years but somehow never got round to it.

I've always said they can have anything they want from me.

Kayano Thu 11-Apr-13 22:46:02

My mum is very religious and I think is of the opinion that she won't get into heaven without a liver or some such. Neither her are dad are registered and she is very stubborn about it.

'No redemption you you! You are missing a kidney!'

I am registered, as is dh.

I have a letter written in case I die about my wishes because I seriously worried about my mum and husband feuding over it and he challenging him.

I don't think she would now, we had a chat, however when I had DD I still found myself telling the mw I was a donor and dh was the decision maker should I die

It's very sad.
I'm very pro organ donation.

BikeRunSki Thu 11-Apr-13 22:46:53

I joined as soon as I was 16. I am also on the Parkinson's Disease Brain Bank register. My family are all well aware of my wishes.

I can't understand why anyone / their family would not want to donate organs.

HollyBerryBush Thu 11-Apr-13 22:50:31

Back to top

When organs are transplanted

•10. Do people on the NHS Organ Donor Register definitely become organ donors?

No. Only a very small number of people die in circumstances where they are able to donate their organs. That is why we need as many people as possible to join the register.

•11. How do they know you are really dead?

Organs are only removed for transplantation after a person has died. Death is confirmed by doctors at consultant level who are entirely independent of the transplant team. Death is confirmed in exactly the same way for people who donate organs as for those who do not.

Most organ donors are patients who die as a result of a brain haemorrhage, severe head injury, or stroke and who are on a ventilator in a hospital intensive care unit. In these circumstances, death is diagnosed by brain stem tests. There are very clear and strict standards and procedures for doing these tests and they are always performed by two experienced doctors.

The ventilator provides oxygen which keeps the heart beating and blood circulating after death. These donors are called heartbeating donors. Organs such as hearts, which deteriorate very quickly without an oxygen supply, are usually only donated by a heartbeating donor.

Patients who die in hospital but are not on a ventilator can, in some circumstances, donate their kidneys, and in certain circumstances, other organs. They are called non-heartbeating donors.

Both heartbeating and non-heartbeating donors can donate their corneas and other tissue.

StuntGirl Thu 11-Apr-13 22:52:07

My family are all medical (except me! Black sheep of the family) and all have cautioned me against actually registering, but advised I just make my wishes known to my next of kin. So that's why I haven't.

3littlefrogs Thu 11-Apr-13 22:53:44

StuntGirl - why have they all cautioned you against registering?

blueemerald Thu 11-Apr-13 22:53:47

My mother refuses to register as there is not an "NHS recipients only" option. She believes/fears there is too much temptation to bump private patients up the list with the current system. I've tried showing her statistics and so on but she is a very cynical and suspicious lady (her father and first husband were both doctors). My brothers and I have all registered.

HollyBerryBush Thu 11-Apr-13 22:55:12

Incidentally, just because you register, your family has to give consent anyway, so there is no point assuming that your family will carry out your wishes/that you are suitable anyway.

3littlefrogs Thu 11-Apr-13 22:56:15

It was my impression that tissue matching and clinical need are the criteria for receiving a transplant. Not whether you are NHS or private. I work in the NHS and I have never heard of a private patient bias in this area.

HollyBerryBush Thu 11-Apr-13 22:56:20

Yes, the NHS does trade on organs and tissue, not just within the UK either.

•49. Could my donated organs and tissue go to a private patient?

Possibly. Patients entitled to treatment on the NHS are always given priority for donated organs. These include UK citizens, members of Her Majesty's forces serving abroad and patients covered by a reciprocal health agreement with the UK.

Other patients would only be offered an organ if there were no suitable patients entitled to treatment under the NHS. Every effort is made to ensure that a donated organ does not go to waste if there is someone who can benefit.

Donated tissue is made available to any hospital in the UK where there is a patient in need.

•50. Could any of my organs or tissue be given to someone in another country?

Yes, possibly. There is an agreement that any organs that cannot be matched to UK patients are offered to patients in other European countries. Likewise, UK patients benefit from organs offered by other European countries. This co-operation increases the chance of a suitable recipient being found, ensuring that precious organs do not go to waste.
Tissue might also be offered to patients in other countries.

Wobblypig Thu 11-Apr-13 22:56:37

The important thing, more important than being on the register, is to ensure your next of kin will follow your wishes after you are gone. They need to know what you want to give. Some people feel very strongly for example, about cornea or hearts.

Many people are very suspicious about donation and the state of brain death , the decision is made at a time do extreme distress in many cases. Most kidneys come from road traffic accidents or acute brain injuries so by the nature of these incidents death is unexpected.

I strongly favour a 'soft' opt out system like Spain or Belgium.

RevoltingPeasant Thu 11-Apr-13 22:58:05

blue really? Hmm I don't wish to sound narky but I think that's a real shame. If my DH (say) were dying because he needed a liver or similar, and the NHS weren't helping him, God knows I'd remortgage the house to send him private if it might save his life.

People are people; who cares what system they use?

RevoltingPeasant Thu 11-Apr-13 22:59:47

Also, who cares if the patient is abroad or here?

I don't get that.

If you are donating because you want to help other people, why does it matter? If your baby needed a heart, would you refuse one from a Latin American or Polish child? confused

3littlefrogs Thu 11-Apr-13 23:00:16

It is my understanding (and belief) that if someone is on the register, that must go some way to mitigate the distress/decision making at the time of the donor's death? Surely knowing that someone wanted/intended to donate would make it less distressing for the relatives to be approached/give consent?

3littlefrogs Thu 11-Apr-13 23:02:03

StuntGirl - please come back and explain why all your medically qualified relatives have cautioned you against registering. I find that really worrying, as I am sure others will too.

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