Bob's NewHeart

Controversy: Should We Take Organs Without Consent?

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In my on-going effort to promote organ donation I’ve found that the altruistic approach, (doing one’s civic duty) while admirable, has not done enought to increase the number of available organs.  Thousands are dying each year because the number of people needing organs is outpacing availability.  Something must be done!  In that light I have embarked on an effort to explore alternatives to altruism.  Today’s blog explores one of them. 

Implied or presumed consent is the norm in several European countries and the Prime Minister of England has stated that he would like the system in place by the end of the year.  In effect presumed consent means that unless you have pre-registered your desire NOT to be an organ donor, your organs may be taken upon your death with permission from no one.  The idea is has been studied in the U.S. for some time with the idea that adopting such a policy might cause a significant increase in the number of available organs.

OPTN (The Organ Procurement and Transplantation network) is a part of UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) the Government regulated organization that matches available organs with those who need them.  

In 1993 an OPTN committee determined that such a policy was not appropriate at that time.  But now, it is 15 years later and the need for organs is far outpacing the supply.  Is it time to begin considering presumed consent again?  Below are the OPTN pros and cons.

OPTN URL:   http://www.optn.org/resources/bioethics.asp?index=2

 Excerpt from OPTN, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network:

Advocates of presumed consent advance the following in support of their position:

Presumed consent, advocates argue, combines the principles of supply-side efficiency, respect for individual conscience, and individual’s positive, yet qualified, duty to promote the good of society.

Opponents of presumed consent base their position on the following presuppositions:

Once again I am asking for your comments.  Increasing the number of organs is a real matter of life and death.  One over which we have total control.  We must continue to talk, but we also need to do something — we need action.  My action is to get people to think and then pass your comments on to policy makers and opinion leaders across the U.S.  What’s yours?  What are you going to do?

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