Increasing Organ Donations

As many will know, there is a major organ shortage currently (about 8000 people are on the waiting list) and encouraging a higher number of donations is a hot topic circulating around the news at the moment. This is because the government is attempting to come up with new ideas to encourage a larger number of people to donate organs.

The most recent possible incentive is that the NHS will pay for the funeral expenses (around £3000) of organ donors, portrayed to be like a “gift” for their generosity. A big cause of concern has been that this could open up trafficking of organs by people who are desperate financially; however, by paying for their funeral only, the government has tried to minimise this misapprehension as you will not be directly selling your organs individually for money.

The main argument against this is that people believe organ donation should be an entirely altruistic act – completely selfless, with no expectation of payment, and the funeral payment totally contradicts this. Many also believe that it won’t have a big effect as most people are not bothered about funeral expenses.

Personally, I believe the only way of increasing organs availability is by having an opt-out system (like Spain and Austria do), rather than an opt-in system, which England currently holds. This means that everyone is automatically signed up to donate their organs when they die but can choose not to participate, instead of the opposite. With this system, everyone will have to be educated thoroughly from a young age so that they can make the decision to pull out (but then again, what is the appropriate age for children to be able to make this decision?). They have thought about this system before but worry that the increase won’t be significant enough to combat the transplant demands and that it could possibly even reduce the number. Nonetheless, this would mean that organs of people who “never got around to” signing up aren’t wasted. It also considerably increases permission by family members who have the ability to veto a consent given initially by the donor when alive.

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