Wanted: a change of heart

1 July 2017, 20:47 | Updated: 1 July 2017, 20:51


Organ donation is one of those things that people do not like to think about, like how they came to be conceived.

Most people want to believe that their mother knitted them out of some DNA she had lying about the place, while their father was mowing the lawn.

Anything is better than thinking about what actually happened.

People also do not want to think that they will ever need someone else's organ to keep them going.

This has led to a lack of available organs for those that find themselves in need.

The government is tentatively considering addressing this. They may be about to overhaul donation rules from a scheme that encourages people to opt in, to a system where you are assumed to be a willing donor unless you opt out.

This is controversial because no one wants to think of having their organs ripped out of them while they are still warm on the slab.

In their darkest imaginings, people conjure up horror film scenarios, having a tug of war with a keen physician trying to take their liver while they are not quite finished with it.

And because it is controversial, I would expect Mrs M to put it on the back burner that fox hunting is currently bubbling away on.

While England dithers, Scotland is joining Wales which already allows medical professionals to presume consent for organ donation.

They must be medical professionals, that is the rule. They can't be any old professionals.

You wouldn't want your bank manager to make that kind of decision, as they would probably take all of your organs while you are still living and help themselves to the contents of your wallet while they are at it.

The problem with getting public approval is that no-one wants to think about dying but there is no doubt that switching from an opt-in to an opt-out system will provide massively more organs from the dead to donate to the living.

Attitudes change, of course, when those who object to being a donor find they are in want of a kidney, for instance. They probably would not object to an opt-out system if they would die without it.

And it is a big problem - about three people die every day wanting a donor organ.

Wales changed its system in 2015 and Scotland is preparing to make the change, and all No 10 said was that the Government would closely monitor the system.

That means that they don't want to say anything that might upset the aged voters of the Conservative Party because they are in enough trouble as it is.

Theresa May's spokeswoman said: 'We are keeping a close eye on how the changes in Wales and Scotland are affecting donation rates in considering whether we would change our policy.'

That kind of political cowardice and intransigence means that more people are going to die.

You should remember that when you hear the government say that the safety of the public is their utmost concern.

The chair of the BMA's medical ethics committee said: 'As a doctor, it is difficult to see your patients dying and suffering when their lives could be saved or dramatically improved by a transplant.

'It is even more difficult when we know that lives are being lost unnecessarily because of poor organisation, lack of funding or because people who are willing to donate organs after their death simply never get around to making their views known.”

That could change, and all it would take is a change of heart from the government.

But they would need a transplant for that, and there's such a long waiting list.