A word in your ear….
Worrying news indeed from the NHS Blood and Transplant authority. Yesterday they reported the first fall in a decade in the number of people donating organs after death. Also, a decline in the number of live organ donors.
Wales is about to change its rules from December 2015 to one where everybody is presumed to have given their consent to organ donation while giving them the right to opt-out.
Doctors there hope that it will solve the perennial issue of not having enough donors to match those needing a transplant. 1200 people died in the UK last year while waiting for an organ donation. Many charities including the British Heart Foundation support the move.
Altruism is a fragile tenet of our society at the best of times. For most of my adult life it seems to have come under sustained attack from all directions – political, economic, social. It has just about held its own in health care. But even here it now seems under constant threat.
However, in few areas other than organ donation is the impact of self-interest – well intentioned and deeply held though it may be – so immediate and profound for the life and wellbeing of another. To those people on waiting lists it must seem perverse that in over 100 cases the wishes of the deceased to donate their organs were overridden by their families.
I hope that the NHS Blood and Transplant Authority figures are just a blip. Greater public awareness, professional training and the like will all help. Yet voluntarism in itself is a shaky foundation for altruism. Codification, ground rules have an important part to play.
A move towards presumed consent for organ donation across the UK can not come too soon. Sadly, for some, it is already too late.
Please sign up to become an organ donor: