Page last updated at 11:37 GMT, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Scrubbing Up: organ donations

In this week's Scrubbing Up, Dr Paul Murphy says doctors and relatives are blocking patients' wishes to donate organs after death.

What do you think? Here are some of the comments you have been sending in to this week's Scrubbing Up .


My sister died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage and it was her wish to donate her organs. As a family we respected her wishes. I held her hand as they wheeled her to the operating theatre. After her death I had contact with two of the people who had received her organs, one received a kidney and the other her liver. My sister had a full life and her death was not a waste. She has given health and happiness to five other people. Five families have the joy of seeing their loved one in health and able to live full lives. Nothing could have saved my sister and hard as it was to let her go, it made letting her go easier. What I didn't realise until later was that the decision to donate organs actually lies with the next of kin. I think this should be changed. If a person is on the donor register then there should be no need for further consent.
Mary Livesey, Accrington, UK

I'm 22 years old and don't get me wrong, I think organ donation is an amazing thing and I admire greatly those people who do it. I'm not yet on the organ donation list, and I know this sounds stupid and pathetic and I feel incredibly guilty about it, but I think it's because I don't want to face my own mortality. At the moment, with all the adverts I cannot even think about it. To contemplate the whole situation makes me very worried and also very sad, but every time I see an advert about it I feel even worse as a person and incredibly guilty! I think my main problem is that the subject of life and death when I was in school wasn't explained as well as it could of been, they made it very scary. I think the adverts are a brilliant idea as they have made me think more and more about organ donation but perhaps some adverts should be aimed at people like myself, with a slightly softer approach? I do not mean to offend anyone at all by my comments, I am not a selfish person, which I think is why I feel so guilty. My promise to myself is that when I have children I will put myself on the register and since I will not have children until I feel I am mature enough, I think my maturity will have developed to allow me to think less subjectively.
Jenny, Bristol, UK

I think it would be a good idea to publicise how positively a transplant affects a person's life. The change from chronic illness to a normal life is an invaluable gift, and people should be made aware of what the potential gift would mean to the recipient.
Carla Maclean, Chester, UK

I stopped carrying a donor card in the 1990s. As a single parent with children under 18, I knew that my mother would count as next of kin and that, despite her knowing my views on organ donation - take what you can use - she was very opposed to donation. I know she would have acted to her wishes, not mine. Why is it not sufficient for the donor's expressed wishes to be enough - after all it's my body.
Linda Tarbet, Chelmsford, Essex, UK

I was a living donor for my daughter and have seen the massive benefits it has given her. I feel that people should be automatically listed as donors and then they can choose to opt out if they are against it. The current system doesn't work if people are still dying while waiting for a donor.
Paul Maloney, Haydock, UK

I ceased to carry a donor card because my teenage children were so upset by the idea, and I completely understand and respect their views. Although I don't mind what happens to my own internal organs after death - I feel differently about my eyes or face - I would feel just as they do if our positions were reversed. Once I am dead, it is their wishes which should count, not mine; it is they who have to cope with the bereavement.
Deborah, Reading, UK

As a motorbike rider I am aware that we sometimes get referred to as 'organ donors' due to the elevated risk of otherwise healthy young people ending up dead. I recently registered online as an organ donor - it took two minutes. I then notified my family who were all supportive of my decision and expressed their intention to also register as donors. I only hope that should it ever come to it, no one blocks my decision to donate. If I no longer need my organs, it seems cruelly wasteful for them not to be given to someone who does.
Nick_B, Brighton, UK

While I've not had any experience of this. I am on the Organ Donor Register, but I don't like the fact that it's still up to my next of kin whether my organs are donated or not. The fact that I've chosen to go on the register should be enough to overrule anyone else's decision on the matter.
Matthew, Aberystwyth, UK

Simple. First, the law should be clear that a person who has signed up to the register made that choice and that should be legally binding on the next-of-kin. Second, only people signed up to the donation register should be eligible for a transplant. No exceptions. New signups should only be eligible after five years, except in sudden emergency cases. So no signing up after you find out you have liver failure. Think of it as an insurance policy that doesn't cost you anything.
Geoff Winkless, Leicestershire, UK

When a very close relative suffered a very serious brain injury, I was the first person the doctor talked to. I asked "What happens if the treatment fails, would my relative be suitable for organ donation?" I will never forget the stunned look on the doctor's face. Maybe I am just too upfront. The answer was that my relative was too old - fine, but at least it was one question answered. Thankfully my relative recovered fully after surgery and outstanding NHS care.
Anon, Blackburn, Lancs, UK

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