Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

Potential organ donors

One item that’s been in the news a bit recently is that people are discussing what to do about the shortage of organ donors.

Here in Germany, people are (as I understand it) only considered organ donors if they carry a card with them where they indicate this or if their family agrees after their death (ideally based on the known and expressed wishes of the deceased).

Due to the shortage of donated organs, people have been looking for ways to increase this—especially as some surveys say that many people would be prepared to donate organs even if they have not formally indicated it.

So on the news, they said that many people have to be on dialysis for years, or even die, because they cannot receive a donor organ, so they [I’m not quite sure any more who “they” is in this context, but I think it was government] considered changing the current opt-in procedure to an opt-out one: everyone is considered as a potential organ donor unless they carry a card with them saying that they do not wish this.

That seems wrong and disrespectful to me.

Sure it’ll lead to greater availability of organs, but simply assuming this seems wrong.

I mean, lots of people die because they have little food. And if every man, woman, and child in Germany gave just €1 a year, then you could surely feed a whole lot of people with those €80 million. But does alleviation of suffering allow you to assume everyone is willing to donate €1 a year unless they specifically opt out? Or: lots of people die because they can’t afford medication. So why not simply assume that the pharma industry will hand out essential medication for free unless they specifically opt out? It doesn’t work like that.

Yes, people die and suffer because of ways that could be prevented, but making organ donation opt-out seems to me like the wrong way to address this problem.

Fortunately, the consensus among “them” seems to have turned to an opt-in model; the visibility of the choice will be increased, though. Apparently, they want every German to be faced with the decision “once in their life”, upon which they can decide to be an organ donor, decide not to be one, or decide not to make that decision. Examples of the increased visibility of the choice were to be asked the question when applying for a driver’s licence or other interactions with the state.

That’s something I’m more comfortable with, and perhaps it’ll lead to more people opting in who simply weren’t aware of the possibility or necessity of opting in. In that case, I’d only hope that the “once in your life” means something like that and doesn’t result in you getting bombarded with the question at every turn you take, whenever you have to deal with the authorities.

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