Monday, 14 January 2008

SPUC Has A New Blog

John Smeaton, Director of SPUC, has started a blog, which you can find HERE.

One of the important topics he tackles is that of organ donation, and the recent suggestion to change the law in the UK to allow presumed consent to organ donation, unless a patient has opted out.

I used to be all in favour of organ donation: I registered as a donor some time ago, when I got my driving licence (before that, I carried a donor card.) I remember the anger I felt when my father's wishes in the matter were ignored by the hospital when he died - the staff didn't believe my mother when she explained he'd have wanted to donate his organs... it was only when it was too late that they discovered his donor card in his hospital locker.

In retrospect, I think there might have been some complication because of the inquest which would have been necessary (my father died after coronary artery bypass surgery) but I'm not sure of the ins and outs of the legal system: I was only 15 at the time.

However, I've had a lot more experience of hospitals since then, both as a patient and as a professional. And now there is the problem of what constitutes "treatment", and when exactly a patient is considered to be dead.

I have little doubt that more PVS patients are going to be killed by starvation and dehydration. The same applies to elderly patients who are no longer able to speak for themselves: the desire not to receive "burdensome treatment" will now be presumed. And it's a short step from starving someone to death to pointing out that, in order to harvest their organs before they are unable to function, it would be kinder to allow the patient a "swift, merciful release" by lethal injection...

2 comments:

Delia said...

I used to carry a donor card, but a (Catholic) doctor friend who worked in a hospital told me to throw it away - literally as a matter of life and death. His experiences had made him deeply cynical. This was about 20 years ago. It'll be even easier to harvest organs now.

deb said...

I see no reason why I should blindly trust doctors. They are humans after all and capable of making mistakes, just like the rest of us. In fact, if a dr. has a bias against certain handicapped groups,I could see how that would get in the way of him/her offering life saving treatement in order to get that organ. How would we, the public, know that the dr had not done everything possible to save someone?

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