I’m sure it is fair to say most of us would do whatever it takes to stay alive if we ever needed an organ transplant. However don’t count on an organ being available; there is a worsening problem in the UK with an imbalance between the number of organs needed, and the number of those being donated.
There are obviously numerous circumstances where people cannot donate for medical or religious reasons, and there is also always the matter of needing to be a match for those in need – but I find it hard to believe that there are 498,718 people whose organs were not suitable for donation.
As a child you are taught to share, and to pass on the toys you no longer need to those who are not fortunate enough to have any. In an ideal world this charitable notion would continue through life. This should be enough to encourage people to become organ donors. But this just isn’t the case. In fact, there has been a drop in organ donations in the past year.
Perhaps it is time to bring in a system that some may see as more ‘fair’. In some countries a system exists, nicknamed “don’t give, don’t get”. As the name suggests, this system is based on the principle that if two people needed an organ transplant, those on the organ donor register or with family who have donated an organ would get priority. Even though there would be exceptions in medical emergencies, maybe this would be a fairer system. Is it fair that somebody who isn’t willing to donate their own organs is able to benefit from the decision of those who do?
Although this system may sound quite radical, and very different from the one we have in England today, the upcoming changes in Wales with the introduction of an ‘opt-out’ scheme may be a sign that things are starting to change a little closer to home. The scheme will work in the way it currently does in England, just in reverse, with people being able to remove themselves from the register as quickly and easily as they can join it at the moment.
Recently a family friend sadly lost his life at the age of 18, and it only then came to his parents attention that he had already signed up to the organ donor register himself. Even though this does not take away from the heartbreak his family is going through, they now have the privilege of knowing that their son has brought hope to numerous families in the UK. Although I am already on the register personally, this has inspired me, along with the recent statistics relating to the drop in the number organ donors, to write this piece, and I hope it inspires you too.
Anyone who is legally capable of making this decision and living in the UK regardless of age can sign up to the NHS Organ Donor register here https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/register-to-donate/.
Lauren Packer, Account Executive, Healthcare
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November 20, 2023
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