Compulsory Organ Donation

I heard a report on the news today that there was a shortage of organs for transplant, particularly livers for some reason (this is in England btw, I don’t know if there are any organ shortages in America). It occurred to me that it would be so much simpler for people if it was made compulsory to donate your organs after death. If a system were adopted whereby once death had been confirmed and the bereaved notified, the organs were harvested for transplant I can see a host of beneficial effects such as:

  1. It would save many lives.
  2. The NHS’s valuable resources wouldn’t need to be spent on ferrying organs from one end of the country to another as the chances of a suitable organ being found near the patient would be much higher.
  3. As well as transplant, more organs would be available for scientific research which could conceivably lead to further lifesaving techniques.
  4. Because there would be more organs to transplant the waiting list for transplants would shrink rapidly, freeing up resources for other areas.
  5. It would restore a lot of faith in the health service if people knew they were going to get quick and easy transplants. This would mean that more people who need transplants would go on the NHS and they would save the thousands of pounds they would have spent had they gone private.

There are probably a couple more reasons to adopt this scheme but I’m too tired to think about it right now so I’ll hand the floor over to you. Do you think it would be a good idea or a bad idea?

Good idea.

Impossible to implement.


It would probably be easier to allow people to sell organs. Same results, easier implementation.

I’m affraid i must agree with Alessan on this one (though by no means a bad thing)

What if I want my body cryogenically frozen so that I might be revived once we have the technology? My original organs might come in handy then.

I’m all for it. I’ll be dead, I don’t care what happens, and if someone else needs parts I’m not using, hey, why not? Besides, I’m pretty sure I’ll come back as a zombie anyway, and they probably don’t need many internal organs.

However, if no one wants my organs, just bury me in my coffin along with a tank of oxygen, a REALLY loud horn, a tupperware container of lasagna, and something to read…just in-case I find out I’m immortal. You never know how many people keep coming back to life and dying of a lack of oxygen trapped in a box 6’ under, heh…

  • Tsugumo

Suppresses urge to quote, at length, a scene from Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life”.


Dear Voice

Um, haven’t you been reading the local papers lately? Were you not aware that something like this has been happening with dead babies over the last few years? Now that folk know about it, they are horrified.

You may be calm and rational about your own earthly remains but most people are not. And they get touchy about the remains of people they love, too.

In Canada, you must sign either your license or your Health Care Card, or some other universal document to be used as an organ donor. I think it would make a lot of sense to make it just the reverse; sign your license or other document if you don’t want to be an organ donor. In Canada, AFAIK we are a country of non-donors; if this was reversed, I think people would get used to the idea that everyone donates, unless they have a really strong feeling (or religious conviction) against it.

I would only ever donate my organs if I could specify who they went to. Giving my heart to a 20-year-old guy shot in the heart by a psycho? Sure, sign me up. Giving my liver to a 50-year-old drunk? No way. Giving my lungs to a smoker? Nope. They made their beds, they ain’t going to crawl out of them with my help. What value would the smoker or the drinker derive from my organs? None. What condition would they be in once the idiots were dead? Not worth the salvage. End result? My organs would be wasted completely on people like that, a slap in the face to all those who really need them and would treat them with care. If that legislation comes into place in the USA, I’m going with cryogenics. Under armed guard if need be.

I’m looking into pickling myself…

featherlou has the right idea. It wouldn’t be right to force people to donate, but right now the system is set up so that you’re assumed to be a nondonor unless you specify otherwise. In fact, in Texas, even if you’ve signed a donor card, you can’t donate unless your family members unanimously give consent.

Most people (especially young ones, who have the healthiest organs) avoid even thinking about donating. Death is something that happens to other people, right? When you die in a sudden and tragic way and your family has to make the decision for you, the last thing they want to consider is some stranger carving you up for parts. This is especially true when the person is brain dead but his body is still hooked up to the machines, looks like it’s still breathing, and is warm. It’s very hard for the family to consent to donation while they’re in shock.

However, if we assumed everyone was a donor unless they declared otherwise, everyone would win. Those who prefer not to donate for whatever reason (or for no reason) would be free to decline. The organ shortage would disappear.

This has been tried successfully in Denmark.

Any other reasons you can think of to make organ donation mandatory would be as irrelevant as the examples you’ve already given. The fact of the matter is that society does not own my organs while I am alive and they aren’t entitled to them after my death.

What if my religion requires that I be buried or cremated whole? Perhaps my religious beliefs state that organ or blood donation is wrong. What if I don’t like the idea of doctors not working so hard to save my life because I’d make an excellent donor and I’ve already lived long enough?


PS: I am an organ doner. But I’d resent the hell out of someone passing a law requiring me to be a doner.

a little [MP]( 5:Live Organ Transplants) may explain…

MAN: What’s this, then? Mmh.
MR. BROWN: A liver donor’s card.
MAN: Need we say more?
MR. BROWN: Listen! I can’t give it to you now. It says, ‘in the event of death’. Uh. Oh! Ah. Ah. Eh.
MAN: No one who has ever had their liver taken out by us has survived.
ERIC: Just lie there, sir. It won’t take a minute.

Derleth–in order to get your liver, that “drunk” would have to have already quit drinking for at least six months. I don’t think continued alcohol use after a liver transplant is that much of a problem. (I could be wrong, but I do know that they’re quite anal about the six clean months.)

I’m not up on the requirements for a donor lung, but I’d say a similar situation exists with cigarettes.

Dr. J

A problem is that many people’s religious convictions forbid organ donating. (We’d have to set precedent here for what sort of rights dead people have.)

That, and most dead people died because they are old or have a disease. That probably makes many of their organs useless anyway.

(draws himself up, outraged) Well, I don’t want your precious liver, thanks. Age-ist wowser! (Grand Offended Exit spoiled as he trips over feet, spills contents of bottle. Leaves mumbling something about young whippersnappers…)

My brother is currently on a waiting list for a liver transplant (it’s a long, long, really depressing story), and I can confirm what Doctor J said: They’re really, really, really strict about making sure organs don’t go into people who are likely to waste them, so to speak. That may or may not change your feelings about someone who’s been a drunk for most of their life and has only recently cleaned up, but it does mitigate the situation somewhat.

We watched a video in Psychology class the other day about the whole “using cells from aborted fetuses (fetusi?) to do tests in trying to cure Parkinsons in people”, and I think there was a thread about it on here (though I didn’t participate in that one)…A “this is a good idea” guy basically said what I feel: They’re dead…and yeah, maybe it’s immoral to take them apart and do tests on them and stuff…but how moral would you feel if you had to tell someone suffering from Parkinsons (which they showed us on the video is a horrible horrible disease, holy crap…a woman was frozen in her body for over 3 years) that sorry, you can’t help them, because you’d rather the dead parts were burned rather than giving them a chance at having a cure.

That’s what I figure for organ donation and such…I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell someone “Sorry, you can suffer because even though I’m not using my parts, you can’t have them”, and if I needed parts, I wouldn’t want to hear that from someone.

I agree that it’d be impossible to have a mandatory organ donation thing going though…Death is a sacred thing to too many people, and yeah, the thought of their loved ones being disected IS gruesome, so I can see where they’re coming from and respect that…I just don’t agree with it really.

  • Tsugumo (of course, there’s always the chance that after we die, we don’t actually go anywhere and our souls just sit in our body, and feel the whole carving up and stuff, or staring at the top of the cryogenic thing or coffin, and there’s a whole lot of people bored as hell right now, heh…I’m hoping for reincarnation! I’ll probably come back as an Elk or something though…)

Good point. I had heard all about it (how couldn’t I it’s been everywhere) but when I wrote my OP I was primarily considering people of my age and over. I don’t know why, I’m going through my second big insomnia period of the year at the moment and it doesn’t exactly do wonders for ones concentration (Imagine Ed Norton at the copying machine from fight club - that’s me :slight_smile: )

Now that I’ve thought about it a little I think that the system might be more workable if there were a couple of restrictions.

With the Alder Hey scandal the shock arose primarily because (a) the doctor in charge didn’t ask permission and (b) there were babies involved. So I propose that, up until a reasonable age, for the purposes of argument lets say 16, express permission is required before organ donation would be able to procede. This, I believe, is the state of affairs as it stands now and in this respect my plan would change nothing.

Also I feel that exceptions should be made if your religion dictated that you had to be buried ‘whole’. I did think of putting this into my OP but I’m not well versed in the bruiel rituals of world religions and I couldn’t offhand think of any religions that would object. If there are any then those people should be allowed to decline. Perhaps they could carry a non donor card (along with people under 16) to let doctors know that transplant would not be viable in their cases.

I think that doctors would still be as rigid about who the organs went to as they are now. Someone with a naturally defective liver would receive priority over someone who had alcahol induced cirrhosis. However if implementation of this scheme were to beintroduced and there were a surpuls of livers then why not give them to the drinker? He may have a wife and kids. As I said, people who haven’t brought their conditions on themselves would be a priority but if there is a surplus of livers then doctors could broaden the spectrum of those they would consider for transplants. As DoctorJ pointed out the doctors wouldn’t be giving livers to alcaholics because they would have had to quit drinking to qualify for the transplant.