The great debate.
Ok so I'm still just getting back into blogging again so I'm easing myself in gently (or not as the case may be!) without talking about my life specifically. A couple of weeks ago my friend Carla and I were featured in the Daily Mail in a debate about Organ Donation and the opt in or opt out situation.
Obviously because its for a paper, they needed to add a bit of drama to it so we were pitched arguing opposing sides, Carla opt in and myself opt out. Read it here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2810163/Daily-Mail-End-Donor-Shortage-Campaign-organ-donor-register.html
Now in reality I do support opt out, but the thing I support most is organ donation. Whether its opt in, opt out, or whatever I want to see more people getting the organs they so desperately need, not losing my friends who haven't been as lucky as I am and generally more results because I know personally how transplants can save and transform lives.
I feel I need to clarify and go into more detail than the article was able to cover. So yes for the sake of the article I had to state one way or other and sitting on the fence wasn't an option. The truth is as I said above to get more awareness of organ donation and more successful transplants. I think there are a lot of misconceptions about the opt out system which despite touching on in the piece you can see didn't get through to readers based purely on the comments section of the article.
The opt out system is still a CHOICE is the first thing I want people to realise. As the name says you can opt out. So if you have strong feelings about not being a donor for whatever reason, or you only want certain organs taken then you still have that choice. No one is taking that away from you or governing your body by the state. In this respect you have as much of a choice as you do with the opt in system.
Point number 2 is that there are problems with both systems. For an opt out system to work we would need to massively invest in the system. It would need funding for education, to make sure everyone understood the way it worked, that they could opt out, how to do that and to reassure everyone that their wishes were respected. It would also need huge investment into the infrastructure of transplantation, if you are suddenly carrying out more transplants you will need; hospital beds to accommodate patients, more ITU beds, More ITU staff (nurses doctors, anestetists, surgeons, etc), you would need more specialist transplant consultants and bigger transplant clinics, more drug production, physios rehab etc. to name just the tip of the iceburg. If opt out was introduced without these measures then it would wholeheartedly fail.
However our current opt in system also has faults. Apathy being the main one, the people I meet that just haven't got around to signing up are huge believe it or not. Why would you think about it when you aren't effected by it? Death is a taboo, people worry they wont be saved if they are donors, that the hospital staff might not treat them as well, that they just aren't sure what they want after their death, that talking about it might make the worst happen. It's sad but true and completely understandable. But being involved in the transplant world for so long shows that the information to settle your mind is out there if you want to look for it. I was talking to someone the other day and we were saying that it is your last wish that can be fulfilled by your family. To give (or not) your organs is your final decision, which should be made clearly by you. Sadly in most cases your family will decide this for you. Most people don't know that currently your family can over ride your decision about organ donation. So if they don't know that you wanted your organs to be donated and are on the organ donor list, they are able to say no when asked. That is a loss to others and to you as no one should make that decision but you. Therefore it is so so important that you make your own decision and then let your family know what you want.
We need donors, so many lives have been lost this year because of the lack of donors and so many lives are on hold waiting for that call that can change their world. Neither the opt out or opt in systems are perfect and for the record I do believe that right now we have the best system in place for where we are, we just aren't ready to commit to what opt out needs yet. However what also strikes me is that we need more education, awareness, discussion. If the article I did can that and get people thinking about their wishes and even possibly signing up then that is the absolute best I can hope for.
Its also part of the reason I wanted to start this blog again, to keep campaigning, spreading the word and showing what life after transplant is like. You never know what a difference it can make.