opting in or opting out?

It isn’t a secret that once upon a time I was against having my organs whipped out of my body and transplanted into someone else after my death.  In fact it’s a cause of much merriment that I went from being so very mortified about the idea to then giving little thought at all to becoming a living donor.  The sadness behind this is that had I died in such a way that my organs could be considered for  donation, my nearest and dearest would have said, ‘No!’ and thus those who really needed them would have been deprived.

Thankfully I didn’t die.


Perhaps it is for this reason that I don’t view those who say they don’t want to donate as selfish.  I also don’t need to know their explanations; as I’ve said before I do believe it’s a personal decision and one we shouldn’t be judged on.

But I do believe that we should have an opt-out system of organ donation in the UK.

There’s an article on the BBC today about how the number of people donating organs after death has increased by 50%.  I’m not sure how factually correct this is; it could simply be that transplants of certain organs [for example, corneas] have progressed to the extent that they’ve become ‘easier’, but percentage wise it looks good, right?  The article mentions (not in detail) how some people have said that an opt-out system is needed and obviously this brings the ‘over my dead body!‘ brigade out in their droves.

Some current carriers of ‘I’m on the donor register!’ cards claim that they’ll opt-out purely on principle.

It’s my body!” they scream, loudly.  “Nobody has the right to take away my control of my body!

[as an aside there’s a cynical little bit of me which thinks that they’re mostly concerned about the fact that they’re not choosing to do a Good Thing; how can they look so perfect if that choice has been taken away from them …]

In part I do agree with them. You should have a say over what happens to your body after death, from donating organs to choosing whether to be cremated or buried, to making the decision to have a solid oak coffin over a simple wicker casket.

My response to this is that an opt-out system actually makes it easier to have control over your organs being used after your death.  We live in an apathetic ‘I’ll do it later’ society, where we don’t talk about our deaths with our loved ones.  Those who are so vehemently against an opt-out system/having their organs donated will opt-out.  They will take the howevermanyminutes it takes to do so, because they feel so strongly about it.  An opt-in system doesn’t create the same powerful surge of emotional responses; with an opt-in system we all just shrug our shoulders, assume it will never happen to us and promise we’ll get round to it tomorrow. It’s lacking in both depth and debate.  We need a good shake-up.

And that’s (quite simply) why we need an opt-out system in the UK.

(Day 541, NO DIALYSIS!!!)


One comment

  1. I like the idea of an opt-out, as well. We have the same problem in the US with folks not communicating with their loved ones about their preferences and sometimes family members decide not to have a loved one’s organs donated because they weren’t sure what he or she would have wanted.
    One thing we do have in my state is a designation of “organ donor” on our drivers licenses. You can choose to be one or not when you get your license renewed. When I get mine renewed, I’m often encouraged by the number of people I hear stating that they do wish to be a donor! 🙂

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