Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Transplants save lives...

That’s the heading on the NHS Organ Donor Register leaflet and of course it is true. Hundreds of people die every year who could have been saved by a transplant. You would think that with 16 million people on the register this would not happen but of course just because you are on the register doesn’t mean that your organs will be used. Many of us die from cancer or other diseases which mean that our organs can’t be used but if, by some awful chance, an accident should take my life I would want to think that it hadn’t been in vain and that some good comes from it.

I am aware that this is my choice and a choice which will not be made by others. It is essential that we respect people’s wishes in this; otherwise we will end up with the mess we were in before the Human Tissue Act came into force.

You may think that I am writing this because of the report over the weekend about errors apparently by NHS Blood and Transplant in recording data which means that a number of people’s organs may have been wrongly removed. Actually this is not the reason - the reason why I am writing this is because last Thursday I filled in my donor form. This wasn’t a big decision I have been agonising over for months but simply that enemy of all good things – inertia.

It is done now and I am furious at this story – obviously because of the distress it will cause those families involved but also because people like me might not come forward because of a concern that something like this might happen. From what I understand, all those involved had agreed to be organ donors but had specified which organs could be used and it was this which was not accurately recorded. How awful for the families left behind to have to deal with this after the event: to have given permission thinking that you were doing what your loved one wanted to find out now that it wasn’t at all.

As I have agreed that any bits of me they can use can be used this does not change my mind but it is a blow for life-saving work.

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