Monday, 25 May 2009

Vital organs

For many years I've carried in my bag a card that allows any part of my body to be donated to others if I die. This seems a much better idea than simply burying or burning them.

If I have perfectly healthy organs that can benefit others, and there are people out there desperate to have them, why not pass them on? Why not recycle them and keep someone else alive and well?

I really don't understand those individuals who are too squeamish or possessive or fastidious not to permit such therapeutic use of what they leave behind. It's just flesh and tissue in the end.

There's an irrational fear that if someone allows the use of their organs after death, their death will somehow be surreptiously hastened to harvest parts that are urgently needed.

I don't know of any cases where this has happened, though I know of instances where people already dead have had bits secretly removed and stored without the knowledge or permission of the relatives.

Even if I were to be the victim of such unauthorised removal, I still wouldn't object if the parts were being put to a good use such as research or training. They'd be no more use to me, after all.

And isn't the possibility of helping someone less fortunate (or even half a dozen) more important than the tiny risk of that offer being abused by someone unscrupulous? It's like refusing to give to charity because someone somewhere might waste the money on boardroom chandeliers.

One of the best-known cases of posthumous organ donation is that of Nicholas Green, a seven year old Californian boy who was killed by robbers in Italy. His organs and corneas were donated to seven different Italians waiting for transplants. Organ donations in Italy have tripled since his murder and thousands of people who would have died are still alive and healthy.

How could anyone say no to such simple, undemanding altruism?

21 comments:

rummuser said...

I would not. I am complete agreement with you.

Grannymar said...

I am with you all the way on this one Nick. It is a subject I hope to come back to in the near future.

Nick said...

Ramana - It's hard to understand how anyone could object.

Grannymar - It's so easy to do, it doesn't take any great effort or sacrifice. And there are so many people in need.

Wisewebwoman said...

I;m with you on this Nick tho I have to confess I'm hoping all my parts are so worn out by the time I go that no one will want them!
XO
WWW

conortje said...

This is also something I feel very strongly about - I can't for the life of me understand why someone would prefer parts to rot in the ground than give another individual an opportunity at a better life, or even life at all!

Caro said...

Totally agree. Whoever wants my bits can have them.

Though I do want to either be buried in the ground or cremated, the Italian custom of shoving dead people into walls is just weird.

Nick said...

www - Oh, I'm sure there'll be plenty of parts still in good working order!

Conor - Exactly, why let perfectly good organs disintegrate rather than passing them on?

Caro - Yes, those cemeteries full of body-racks are strange but also fascinating.

Liz said...

Absolutely. Though I fear that what is left of my brain will be of use to no-one.

Nick said...

Liz - Unless you're secretly gorging on recreational drugs, I'm sure your brain will be in very good shape.

Quickroute said...

You're all welcome to my bits n pieces when i pass on - wouldn't recommend the liver though - used to have a donor card but need to look into an international one if it exists?

Nick said...

Quicky - Never thought about an international card, must look into that. I don't think anyone would want your green head either, lol!

Baino said...

I'm a donor too but I'm not sure my liver would be 'suitable'. The problem here is that even as a donor, you still have to register and the permission of family still has to be granted which means you really need to talk to your rellies and ensure that they understand it's your wish to donate. We have thousands of people on donor registers but few donors because their families say 'no'. Unaware that their loved one would prefer to save lives when theirs cannot be saved.

Nick said...

Baino - Good point about the rest of the family. I'm sure Jenny and my mum and sister would be quite happy about it, but it's worth checking up on. And why are families so frigging selfish?

Leah said...

This reminds me that I should get a donor card. I support this entirely, and I agree with you.

Nick said...

Leah - Yes, get a donor card right now! And check that your family are behind you....

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I agree, too, but of course there is the matter of not planning to die, ever.

I do have surprisingly strong negative feelings about being a medical school cadaver, though. I don't want callow kids dropping lunch crumbs on my body and snickering that "she has nice knockers."

Nick said...

Heart - You might have a point about being ogled by juvenile medical students. And goodness knows what they'd make of my own weedy, scrawny physique.

Dave Hampton said...

I've done it; I believe in it. But I'd like to see it remain a matter of personal choice as an opt-in system, rather than an opt-out one.

The key will be to make it convenient: I think that there is now a check box available when you do a driver's license registration in Washington State.

Nick said...

Dave - Oh, I think opting out is better, otherwise so many people just don't get round to it. Signing up when you apply for a driver's licence is a good idea.

Brighid said...

I'm in agreement on this one. Have my card, and have notified family of my wishes. A granny never really dies anyway, if she's worked her magic when here.

Nick said...

Brighid - Very true, it's the memories of the person that matter, not what happens to the physical remains.