Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The Wrong Answer...

Elizabeth Buggins got it wrong. Despite the fact that her committee had examined 400 pages of evidence and considered experience from across the world, thair recommendation - that consent for organ donation should be explicit, not presumed - was not the answer that the Prime Minister wanted.

Ms Buggins said: "We found from recipient families and donor families that the concept of gift was very important to them and presumed consent would undermine that concept.
"We also found that it has the potential to erode trust in doctors, and we know that is very important to the levels of donation."

Instead, Ms Buggins said a rise in organ donations was more likely to be achieved by increasing in the number of donor coordinators who work with bereaved families, and the number of specialists who retrieve organs, and by launching public information campaigns.

However the Prime Minister is already preparing to ignore this advice and press on with what he has clearly decided is the right answer, despite the committee’s thorough investigation. He said: “"I'm not ruling out a further change in the law.”

Ms Buggins further added: "There is lots of fear out there that organs are taken from patients before they are dead - that is absolutely not true."

Here she is both right and wrong: there is such fear - and it is well-merited. The fact that a new definition of death has been created to allow the removal of organs from living people does not disguise (or excuse) that reality.

To their shame, Patient Concern on their campaign site, say “We also believe that giving general anaesthetic should be mandatory before organs are removed from donors who are still breathing.” I would prefer for them to campaign for no removal of vital organs prior to death - but that would bring large parts of the transplant industry to a complete standstill, as only organs from living donors are any good to them in many cases (see my previous posts on this).


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