English 165LB: Literature & Biotechnology (W11)

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Organ donation & presumed consent (via Stephanie B)

Posted by rraley on February 11, 2011

From an NHS site, “Opt In or Opt Out“:

“The current “opt-in” system of organ donation – where individuals are asked to register their willingness to be a donor after their death – has been the subject of debate for many years. Due to the serious shortage of organ donors and consequent waiting lists for transplant operations in the UK, it is often suggested that the altruistic approach to organ donation is in need of review. The British Medical Association (BMA), many transplant surgeons, and some patients’ groups and politicians are keen to see Britain adopt a system of “presumed consent”, where it is assumed that an individual wishes to be a donor unless he or she has “opted out” by registering their objection to donation after their death.”

From the Telegraph, “The case for presuming consent” (November 5, 2010):

“There are tricky ethical issues about increases to incentives. To pay for organs, like kidneys, might tempt the poor to risk their lives. The idea that a donor should be given priority if they require a transplant later in life raises problems of need versus desert. The British Medical Association and the British Heart Foundation both want to switch to a system of presumed consent, where it is assumed everyone is willing to donate unless they opt out. In the past that idea has met with hostility, partly out of squeamishness, partly because many feel the state is untrustworthy to administer these matters. But countries that use this system have 25-30 per cent more organs available for transplant. Surveys show that 90 per cent of Britons support organ donation and yet the law currently assumes the opposite. Since only 23 per cent of the population have registered their wish to donate, thousands of bodies are buried or cremated with viable organs simply because people never got around to making their wishes known. The decision falls to the family when they have just been told their relative has died or is dying.”

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One Response to “Organ donation & presumed consent (via Stephanie B)”

  1. Cailean Kilroy said

    Even though we are now on the topic of bioart, AOL NEWS had this interesting article in today’s headlines that has touched on some of the topics we have discussed in class:

    http://www.aolnews.com/2011/02/27/horrific-us-medical-experiments-come-to-light/?icid=maing|main5|dl2|sec1_lnk2|46937

    The article discusses the United State’s past experiments where people were purposely infected with viruses, cancer cells, hepatitis, and more. The subjects the experimenters choose to study were prisoners, mental patients, and previously diseased people. People have “questioned how well these people understood what was to be done to them and why, or whether they were coerced.” This article also touches on the idea of consent. Many of the subjects were unaware of the risks of the procedures and “volunteered” for the experiment in order to receive money. Poor, underprivileged people were also used as subjects, giving up their lives for science, in the play, Harvest. Why does society justify using and manipulating people of low socioeconomic class? What can’t money buy these days?

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