Kidneys! Kidneys! Get your kidneys here!

I’m fascinated by this story—that the British government is considering changing organ donation to an opt-out system. So the surgeons would be able to presume consent unless the patient had specifically asked that his organs not be used.

I think it’s such an interesting ethical question. In some ways it would so clearly be a good thing: having organs which could save someone’s life and not using them just seems criminally wasteful. But I don’t think you have to be a full-blown libertarian to feel uncomfortable with the government giving itself the right to treat the bodies of its citizens as a resource to be harvested.

Anyway, at least having the story in the news made me finally get round to registering as an organ donor, something I’ve vaguely been intending to do for years. So even if the law doesn’t change, they can have any squidgy inside bits they have a use for.

3 Comments

  1. 14 January 2008 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    Maybe there’s some reverse psychology in that proposed opt-out system, eh, Harry? By getting people to talk about it a bit more, maybe they’ll be able to prick some consciences and get more names on a volunteer basis first?

  2. Harry
    14 January 2008 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    One person I heard call in to the radio about it suggested that only registered organ donors should be eligible for a transplant. Which isn’t really the way I’d want to go but is a point worth making. You could take that a bit further and say you’re only eligible for free healthcare on the NHS if you give blood regularly, are a registered organ donor and make sure your children get all their vaccinations. It would certainly focus people’s minds a bit.

  3. 15 January 2008 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Well, there’d no doubt be some nay-sayers on that but it certainly bears thinking about and I tend to agree, at least in principle.

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