Polly on Organ Donation

Of course, she\’s happy that the State gets that little bit more power over us. But the thing that rather gets me is that she completely ignores one other method of increasing organ donations. Having a market.

I\’m really rather conflicted over the whole subject myself, but I do have this feeling that I would, if people think that organ transplants are so important, think them more honest if they supported both presumed consent and compensated donations.

25 comments on “Polly on Organ Donation

  1. Another angle that has been overlooked is the biotech/genetic engineering angle. If the Greenies have their way, these areas will be shut down, and yet artificially created organs could – assume they actually work – achieve much of what is required without the ghoulish state policy of harvesting the organs of the dead.

    That Polly supports the latter only reinforces my total loathing of that woman and her Fabian brand of fascism.

  2. I think what’s also telling is that Tim posted a comment in the CiF thread on this and – last time I looked – nobody posted a follow-up, either in agreement of disagreement.
    Tells you all you need to know about CiFers: that a simple free market solution isn’t even worth considering. It’s Big Government or nothing.

  3. One thing that concerns me is the whole concept of ‘opt out’ is a logical fallacy.
    For instance a woman might faithfully carry her opt out card every day of her life. However, her last words as she lies on the Emergency Room table are unlikely to be “My handbag is in the kitchen behind the toaster.” She might be registered on a database but for anyone with experience of NHS recordkeeping, how much confidence do you have that Katherine Smythe of Park Rise Hall isn’t Catherine Smith of Hall Park Rise? With her corpse cooling and the urgency of retrieving valuable organs, how much diligence will be applied to establishing her wishes?
    And what happens if her organs are already on the way to the operating theatre, where the recipient is being prepped for surgery when the police discover her purse in her wrecked car? What happens if her ‘opt out’ is discovered after her kidneys are functioning in another person’s body? Are they removed?
    For practical purposes an ‘opt out’ policy can be all too easily treated as a compulsory ‘opt in’.

  4. but pj, all of your responses apply equally well to “opt-out”.

    the difference is that if my organs were to go to waste because I’d forgotten my donorcard that day, *not only* would my final wishes go ungranted [which is obviously just as bad as ms smith’s final wishes going ungranted], but *also* some poor sods would die.

  5. “….but *also* some poor sods would die”

    Or, less dramatically, spend a few more months on the waiting list.

    Or has the NHS gone so far down the sewer as to not require the transplantee organs to be present in the OR before the surgeon gets his scapel out…?

  6. Also note that john b’s little addition to the debate is a perfect encapsulation of a socialist’s ‘end justifies the means’ attitude.

  7. JB
    They don’t apply equally because in the ‘opt in’ system we have currently, there is plenty of incentive for medical staff to obtain or establish consent for donorship. Where is the incentive to establish the opposite?
    It’s not an argument about best outcome. The logical & very dangerous extension of best outcome has anyone liable to be snatched from the street for spare parts. One life given to save many. We all might get our chance to be a hero. Posthumously.
    The argument’s about fundamental rights. Who has ownership of our bodies. Who has the say about their fate, us or the state.

  8. a) Because nobody ever dies on the waiting list, do they?

    b) No, “end justifies the means” [*] would be saying “you should have your dying wishes ignored to save others’ lives”. Balancing your dying wishes to keep your organs versus my dying wishes for them not to go to waste is important *even if* you think the government should completely ignore the utilitarian point about organs saving lives.

    See, that’s something which has been missed in this debate. The 80% of people who aren’t raving dogmatists about organ transplants generally put their argument in utilitarian terms (“you don’t need them cos you’re dead, and if Dave gets them instead then he won’t be dead”).

    But we actually have a bloody good argument purely on the basis that people’s dying wishes should be granted: with 80% of the population saying they’re minded to donate their organs, and only a small minority of religious types saying they’d hate to do so, the new system will in itself mean that fewer people’s dying wishes will be ignored. Surely that’s a good thing?

    [*] note: the correct term for this attitude is “utilitarian”, which is a respectable political philosophy. Phrasing it as “end justifies the means” is a cheap way of smearing people you disagree with as Nazis, so I’m entirely unsurprised to see you using it here.

  9. “They don’t apply equally because in the ‘opt in’ system we have currently, there is plenty of incentive for medical staff to obtain or establish consent for donorship.”

    Do you mean medical staff’s innate moral nature (in which case it presumably would also incentivise respecting the person’s wishes)? Because I sure as hell can’t see any other incentives that either exist or are planned – rather, it’s an unpleasant, unrewarded task that all medical staff I know hate having to do…

  10. “Because nobody ever dies on the waiting list, do they?”

    Of course they do, but it isn’t a given, unlike your hyperbolic ‘would die’. But then, overwrought hysteria neatly summarises most of the opt-in crowd’s ‘argument’ on this subject.

    “…a cheap way of smearing people you disagree with as Nazis…”

    Hey, it was the Nazis who also had a way of viewing people as commodities. Don’t come sobbing to me if you don’t like the comparisons your own ‘arguments’ are drawing…

    “…only a small minority of religious types saying they’d hate to do so….”

    Oh, let’s put paid to this straw man before you exhaust your little self beating it, shall we…? It isn’t only a religious objection – in fact, I’m not religious and nor, I suspect, are most of the bloggers argiung against it.

  11. “..it’s an unpleasant, unrewarded task that all medical staff I know hate having to do…..”

    Oh, poor dears! Let’s just relieve them of that burden by taking away people’s choice then, shall we..?

    And if Fat Gordo gets to put another layer of paperwork and targets on the NHS, well, that won’t prove a problem, will it?

  12. “…only a small minority of religious types…”

    Although not intended, john b has inadvertantly raised a tangental issue here; one of the religioys groups that is strongly ‘agin organ donation is Muslims.

    What wil the rabble rousers so keen to see the hand of governmental Muslim-hate in everything make of this issue, I wonder…?

  13. “Do you mean medical staff’s innate moral nature (in which case it presumably would also incentivise respecting the person’s wishes)?”

    We are talking about the UK here aren’t we? As someone who’s currently toiling through the NHS surgical admissions procedure I haven’t seen much sign of ‘innate moral nature’ and a great deal more of ‘whatever makes our lives easier & doesn’t interfere with Christmas shopping plans.’ If I survive till, or for that matter, the operation itself I’ll let you know.
    But nevertheless:
    Yes, I can’t imagine having to ask grieving relatives for donorship permission is a pleasant task and not one I’d like to have to undertake. But where’s the difference under a presumed consent system? It’s the same relatives the same circumstances & the same question. Or should be, or they’re not being given the opportunity to ‘opt out’. That’s why I didn’t consider it in my arguments against the proposed change.

    That the majority of those asked saying they’re minded to donate their organs is of course very democratic but so’s the majority in favour of hanging.

    What worries me is that the ‘utilitarian’ or as I phrased it ‘best outcome’ manner of thinking is what has resulted in mothers having their children taken away for adoption because of some social worker’s opinions & a council’s adoption targets. No doubt the NHS will have transplant targets to meet and hospital administrators intent on fulfilling them.

    Personally, I’m all for my bits & pieces being available to help others and I’ll be making sure my consent is known before the surgeon gets to sharpening the carving knife. I’ll trust him not to realise that I’m probably worth more broken up for scrap because I’ve got plans for the coming year. But I want that to be my decision. I don’t want to be shown a piece of paper & told “That’s a donor opt out form. You won’t want to sign that will you?” It puts me too much in mind of those ‘optional’ Labour Party subs I paid when I was a member of a closed shop union. Of course anyone could opt out but…

  14. I’ve actually signed up to donate my body to medical science, which means I can’t donate anything but my corneas. The advantage of an opt-in system from my perspective is that it means my organs stay in place (presuming a gentle death) so that I can get intact to a place where I can usefully be diced up. I’d happily donate my organs but I’d rather my intended outcome. At present that involves opting-in to the degree I choose, in future, that would involve opting-out and then back in again because someone else previously chose that degree for me. I’m all for organ donation but something about that worries me.

    It may sound absurd but the opt-in system at present is graduated, whereby you can offer as much or as little as you choose, when you feel ready to choose. A change to automatic opt-in is a total flip, not a subtle shift.

    All that said,

  15. Julia – try learning to read. I said that only a small minority of religious types object to *donating their organs*, not to this policy. I understand (disagree with, but understand) the people who’re opposed to this policy but not to donating their organs.

    More to the point is why an objector’s wish to not have their organs used should be considered more important than my wish to have my organs used (we’re assuming the system is imperfect, here, since otherwise there’s no difference between opt-in and opt-out anyway…)

    PJ – I knew we’d get to the complete and utter lie about “mothers having their kids taken away to meet adoption targets” before too long at this debate. They aren’t, and the people who think that the state is evil for doing its job and placing kids with loving parents who can look after them would be the first to blame evil social workers if the kids in question were left with their natural parents and beaten/neglected/abused.

  16. “..try learning to read. I said that only a small minority of religious types object…”

    Try learning to write – that can be interpreted as both. Be clearer next time. And you may find the majority isn’t as small as you believe it to be….

    “…we’re assuming the system is imperfect, here”

    On the contrary, the system works fine as it is. That not enough people choose to donate, or that their relatives (who OWN the remains) don’t donate, is not the fault of the system.

    “….the people who think that the state is evil for doing its job and placing kids with loving parents.. “

    Oh, please! Not another ‘the almighty State can do no wrong’ argument…

    “..would be the first to blame evil social workers if the kids in question were left with their natural parents and beaten/neglected/abused…”

    They frequently ARE…

  17. Nobody is restricting anyones’ choices. If the system switches to presumed consent, you can still opt out. Furthermore, would it be too hard to say that in cases in which it is dubious as to whether consent would have been given, that it is not given, and that family members can exercise the opt-out after their loved one has died, on their behalf?

  18. “If the system switches to presumed consent, you can still opt out.”

    It doesn’t matter. The balance will have shifted, and you know it.

    “Slightly harsh, perhaps?”

    Diddums.

  19. I think a lot of people would be happier if more care orders were associated with convictions for assault or abuse and not because a bunch of self appointed experts had decided in a closed court what’s best for a family. If justice is to be done it should be seen to be done, not have the evidence kept secret, even from the accused. Anyway, at least you leave us no doubt where your coming from.
    The reason “why an objector’s wish to not have their organs used should be considered more important than my wish to have my organs used” is because they are more important. The argument comes out of the box next to the one marked ‘innocent until proven guilty (do not put in trash)’.If you feel so deeply about the matter have your post-mortem instructions tattooed on your forehead. Just don’t expect demurrer’s to have it tattooed on theirs. And neither should they have to give their reasons.
    It’s a basic principal that the state should stay out of our lives unless there is an overwhelming necessity to do so. In this case there simply isn’t.
    If there’s a shortage of transplant organs the state needs to persuade more people to be donors. The obvious answer is to restrict the availability of transplant material to those who have volunteered to be donors. No last minute conversions to the faith allowed. That solves the problem at both ends. It increases the supply & reduces demand. If religious convictions forbid donorship then they must forbid receipt. If they don’t, find yourself another religion, fast. What problem could you possibly have with that?

  20. When I was waiting for a heart transplant the nurse said “With your height and blood group you won’t get one anyway”. So I looked around the ward, and all the other men there were indeed little squirts.

  21. t’s a basic principal that the state should stay out of our lives unless there is an overwhelming necessity to do so. In this case there simply isn’t.

    Er. “lives”? You mean “dead bodies”.

  22. “Er. “lives”? You mean “dead bodies”.”

    No, I suspect he meant ‘lives’. As in, choices and decisions made while alive that we expect the Government to honour when we are dead. Or are you suggesting that the minute the corpse cools, the Government can gleefully rip up any will you may have made and confiscate all property and assets..?

    Come to think of it, most of the left probably do think that! Maybe it’s the next step…

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.