Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The value of transparency

I am a member of the Human Tissue Authority and ten days ago I attended one of our regular meetings. This was one of the two meetings we hold in public each year. It is a little strange to start off with but within a few minutes the meeting takes its shape. (If you are a fan of reality TV you will realise how quickly the participants forget that there is an audience!)

The meetings are always interesting and stimulating and with such a wide range of people with different backgrounds on the Authority there is neither a lack of differing views nor a reluctance to express them.

One particularly thorny issue is the question of informed consent with live organ donation. If, as has now happened, it is found that two people who believed that they were genetically related are not – does that change the view of informed consent? For example, if a father agrees to donate an organ to a child and then finds out that he is not the father – you could argue that the basis on which he gave his consent has changed.

There were many different views and as many proposed solutions and there is still much discussion to be had to resolve how we deal with this in the future - but we agreed that consent cannot be presumed to exist.

I was gratified to hear from one of the audience at the end how pleased he was to hear a robust debate between the members. This is why transparency is so important - it is the way of all our meetings where differing views are expressed openly and debated thoroughly but unless you see it for yourself how would you know.

No comments:

Post a Comment