Families are unfairly blocking organ donation from dead relatives who wanted to make the gift of life, claims a leading expert in ethics.
Why do I always see that phrase, ‘leading expert in ethics’ and know I’m going to see something that makes me wonder if it’s even human?
At least one in 10 people who decided in advance to donate their organs is having their wishes thwarted, it has emerged.
Doctors are blamed for not trying hard enough to persuade families to do the right thing, says an article in the British Medical Journal.
Because it’s clearly the easiest thing in the world to suggest that doctors – who are only human, after all – strongarm grieving relatives.
Author Dr David Shaw said the law is on the side of medics when a dead patient is on the donor register, and their organs can be taken against the will of the family.
Instead, doctors are giving in to psychological pressure from grieving relatives even when they know the dead patient was carrying an organ donor card, he said.
The patient is dead. He’s no longer grieving. He’s no problem. But the relatives are very much alive, remember!
He said ‘The doctor’s qualms about causing more distress for the family cause deaths by omission and greater consequent emotional distress to far-off families, whose relatives will die because there were not enough organs available.’
Yes, but they aren’t in front of the doctor, weeping and wailing. The deceased’s relatives are…
Doctors involved in these cases should persist even if it causes the family ‘some short term distress’ said Dr Shaw.
Although the family should be treated with compassion, it is unethical not to make the case for respecting the dead person’s wishes and assisting other patients in need of organs, he said.
The dead are dead. Their wishes are no more. The doctors have to deal with the living. It’s not hard to see why they dodge the issue!
It’s not quite as cut and dried as he makes it, either:
Keith Rigg, former president of the British Transplantation Society, said although doctors could take a dead patient’s organs legally if they were on the register whatever the family said, this does not happen in practice.
He said a code of practice to the Human Tissue Act made clear the family’s wishes should be respected.
Indeed! And doctors are respecting them. Is that not ethical?
And, as Longrider has often pointed out, the end result of this way of thinking is that, when it comes to your body, “you are only a tenant until the state has need of it”.
Is that ethical?