Communitarians Again

A mother in need of a kidney transplant was denied her daughter\’s "perfect match" organs after her sudden death.

Laura Ashworth died, aged 21, at Bradford Royal Infirmary after a suspected asthma attack.

She had spoken of her desire to help her mother, Rachel Leake, who has kidney failure, but despite being on the national organ donor register, did not formally record her wish for her mother to benefit.

A transplant co-ordinator then told Miss Leake, 39, that her only child\’s organs would go to strangers.

One of Laura\’s kidneys went to a man in Sheffield and the second to a man in London. Her liver was given to a 15-year-old girl.

Good that three people were given the chance of life, of course.

A spokesman for UK Transplant said a final decision in the case was taken by the Human Tissue Authority in line with the Human Tissue Act.

Your dead body belongs to the State, not your family.

Nice to see it spelt out so clearly, eh?

9 thoughts on “Communitarians Again”

  1. “Your dead body belongs to the State, not your family.”

    She willed it to the State by registering on a donor list. She allegedly said she wanted it to go to her mother, but did not formally record this.

    Would you want your will overturned by a
    relative who said you’d muttered something about changing it at the last minute?

  2. That’s not the way I understand it Kay Tie – I read it as the law governing the HTA means they /cannot/ specify /who/ the organs go to, therefore although the daughter did specify she wanted to help her mother the HTA did not record this as they were not able to.

    If what you say is true then its a rather different question, but if it’s the way I read it then Tim’s point is completely valid.

    And do you doubt for one second that the state /does/ consider it owns us??

  3. “And do you doubt for one second that the state /does/ consider it owns us?”

    No, I don’t doubt that for a second. To be more precise, I’m sure Gordon Brown holds this is a central tenet in his ideology. I’m not sure the state holds it, since the state as an entity is devoid of ideology – it’s only the ruling Party that has an ideology, and the state bends to its will.

    “I read it as the law governing the HTA means they /cannot/ specify /who/ the organs go to”

    Yes, if you’re signed up to the organ donor list. But as I understand it you can make an independent living will to directly donate it, which bypasses the donor list rules. That wasn’t done in this case (again, as I understand it – which is a caveat running through this entire story because all we have to go on are sketchy media reports).

  4. A rare moment of disagreement with you, Tim. If she’s willed her body to the organ donor register then that is where her body should go. If she wanted it to go to her mother then she should have made that clear. The state is following her wishes, not betraying them. My body should find its way into the hands of some medical students when I’m dead and I’ll be damned if a familymember turning squeamish is going to stop it.

  5. “did not formally record her wish for her mother to benefit”: everything seems to turn on the weasel word “formally”.

  6. “everything seems to turn on the weasel word”

    When I had my will drawn up the lawyer was paranoid about even allowing a paperclip near it: there have been challenges before where a family member claimed that there must have been a codicil because the paper was indented in the shape of a paperclip.

    With wills to be watertight, every tiny detail has to be handled correctly.

  7. Well I can hear donor cards being torn up, over the length and breadth of this land. She registered as a donor, and now they are going to let her mother die, to save somebody else.

    The whole donor system is predicated on how easy and straightforward it is to register. Nothing to lose, no pitfalls. We tend to assume that any of our own loved ones will benefit, should we pass on. Turns out, it isn’t like that.

    And what if this donor had left a formal request to prioritise her own family? Would the fact of donor registration over-ride that intent? Could the HTA snatch your own organs from your own sick relative?

    The only formal request I am leaving behind, is a free bequest to any needy members of my own family, and circle of friends, and if that is not needed then my next of kin may permit organ salvage and transplantation.

    But the corollary of this, is what about how the recipients feel should they ever find out? I know how I would feel, like I’d received something stolen, that I should never have had, and for want of which the rightful recipient had died.

  8. People seem to be getting worked up without thinking this through. If she hadn’t signed up to the donor register, her organs wouldn’t have gone to her mother, they would have gone in the ground. So this turned out better than it might have thanks to the register.

    Family members have no more right to organs than other members of the public unless the donor specifies so. My body is my own, not loaned me by my kin. The lesson is that if you wish something to happen after your death, then you need to establish it “formally” now as you can’t sort it out later.

    I think people are so keen to see government error and evil (which is so readily evidenced elsewhere) that they’re reading too much into this situation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *