Organs

  DrScott 18:36 17 Jul 2007
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The new idea to increase the availability of donor organs. What do people think?

Personally, it's a good idea in theory, though it may add yet another emotional trauma to relatives who have been holding a vigil by their brain dead family member. It's a horrible ordeal to go through.

Some have suggested stronger laws so that those who do choose donate organs cannot have their request overturned by family members (by them not agreeing to sample tissue typing and infectious disease screening).

It's a subject that tends to bring out strong views, so I'll be interested to see which way the forum leans.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 18:59 17 Jul 2007

I think it is a brilliant idea which, I believe, has been running in NZ for some time.

If you are brown bread then losing a few of your organs is the last thing that would be on your mind. I carry a full donor card with me most of the time but I do occasionally forget. Not having my name on the opt-out database will means that whatever happens my organs can be whipped out PDQ. It is unfair and time consuming to ask, already distressed relative if one can harvest the organs from the corpse. Can't see the point of burning or letting perfectly good organs rot and without wishing to be harsh and insensitive, it is hugely selfish as well.

Anyone who is frightened, in pain, cannot live a normal life and is desperate for a new organ may probably agree with me.

G

  exdragon 19:01 17 Jul 2007

I'm for the 'opt out' too and have made it quite plain to my family that in no way should they refuse to let any bits of me go - the medics can have whatever they want. Some may say it's foolish and that it will lead to still-alive bodies being plundered, but I don't believe it.

I have no wish to be buried as an entire whole body: my family don't live in this country and I should hate to lie in a neglected grave. I personally find the thought of cremation very distressing - I can't understand how anyone can burn someone they have loved, seeing them reduced to a handful of ash. I have no problem, however, with my remaining bits and pieces being cremated after the useful things have been taken.

My dad left his body for research, with strict instructions that my mother was not to be told when the doctors had finished with it. She did find out, however, and a year after he died, she was contacted by the hospital. Some members from the team who had been involved invited her to attend a memorial event, and she was told how much his decision was appreciated. OK, some people may say we were naive and that it was probably not his remains etc etc, but she felt good about it.

  Curio 19:02 17 Jul 2007

GANDALF <|:-)> Concur.

  Forum Editor 19:05 17 Jul 2007

that means more donors.

A few years back I spent some time with the people who run the UK transplant coordination system in Bristol click here

and then with a transplant retrieval team at one of the Bristol hospitals. I also interviewed kidney patients on dialysis and the bereaved relatives of organ donors. I was writing a freelance feature on organ transplants, and a friendly Health Minister opened every door for me.

What I saw and learnt during my time in Bristol opened my eyes to two things - the dedication and skill of the people who work in transplant surgery and donor/recipient matching, and the human misery that results from having to wait, sometimes for years, until a suitable organ becomes available.

I vividly remember meeting a couple whose son had popped out for a bottle of wine for a Summer's evening family barbecue, and had never come home - he died as the result of a motorbike accident, not a half mile from their country home. These people had no other children, and it was impossible not to shed a tear as I listened to them say how proud they were that their son's organs had gone to give a new lease of life to two other people. They had made contact with one of the recipients, and the fact that this person had a decent quality of life because of their son's heart and lungs made it slightly easier for them to live with their very evident grief.


So yes, I'm very much in favour of anything which increases the supply of donor organs.

I've sat by the bedside of a brain-dead person, and watched as a father tried to come to terms with the fact that although his twenty-year old daughter was being kept warm and pink by the ventilator the person he knew had gone. He realised that she could still help someone else to live, yet he struggled to make the decision. Afterwards, when her organs had been removed, he told me it would have been so much easier for him, had she carried a donor card - he would have known that it was her wish, instead of having to guess.

You can sign up online if you click here

  spuds 19:17 17 Jul 2007

I have always carried a donor's card, and if anyone thinks that a part of my body is worthy of a transplant, then so be it.

Last night there was a programme on BBC television Fight for Life at 9.00pm. There follow up programme next Monday etc. After seeing that I was more convinced about donor contributions. The only thing about yesterday evenings programme was the 4 hour time scale of the donor organ reaching the intended receiver. Had there been any problems with transportation, the donor heart in this case would not have survived.

A simple question: Are donor card more or less acceptable to that of the database?.

  laurie53 19:24 17 Jul 2007

My father had made formal arrangements to leave his body "to science" for whatever it could be used for, even just for medical students dissection.

They didn't want it, and in fact the hospital where he died were quite brusque and off-hand with me about it, which did not ease my distress any.

This has, I'm afraid, left me with a very jaundiced (no pun) view of this whole area.

  Si_L 19:25 17 Jul 2007

If my dying means I can help someone else live, then I am 100% for it, and I think people are selfish if they do not have the same attitude, or even just an open mind about it.

What makes a person is what leaves when we die, our soul, and so to cling onto an empty shell of a person is just selfish.

  Forum Editor 19:39 17 Jul 2007

your organs it doesn't particularly matter how you do it. It helps if you carry a card, because it simplifies the procedure if you're brought to a hospital unconscious, and none of your relatives are present - the medical staff know what your wishes are. If you're dead on arrival it doesn't matter - your organs can't be used anyway.

Organs can be kept in a viable state for quite a while after removal, and they often are. It's not uncommon for organs to arrive in the UK from other European countries, and we'll offer organs to other countries if we don't have a tissue-match recipient here. The convention is that organs are retrieved by a team from the recipient hospital, so surgical staff from say, Exeter would travel to Edinburgh to retrieve if an organ with a tissue match was offered to one of the patients on their list.

It's an amazing feat of organisation, and it takes a heck of a lot of skill and hard work to match organs to recipients - you can't just put any heart or kidney in any patient that needs one. What will happen is that the cordinating centre will tell a hospital that it might have an organ for a registered, waiting recipient. The hospital then notifies the patient that an organ might be coming, and that he/she should pack a bag and travel to hospital. On arrival a tissue-matching process begins, and at the same time a similar process is happening at the donor hospital. If everything looks right the retrieval team is told to travel, and they go to the donor hospital and do the removal. The organs are always removed by the team that will be doing the transplant.

  Stuartli 19:41 17 Jul 2007

I'm all for donation of organs, but on a voluntary basis as now, and not a State backed requirement/demand.

Creating more publicity about organ donations and making donar cards more readily available will go a long way to helping the situation.

My wife is on the list for a kidney transplant (although she is now having second thoughts in view of her age and the fact that she feels a younger person would prove a more suitable recipient), but she was as horrified as anyone about the Alder Hey organs incident a few years back (the hospital is only about 20 miles from where we live).

  Forum Editor 19:45 17 Jul 2007

That sounds like an unpleasant experience, and I can understand how it affected your view.

Some people think that after a certain age you can't donate your organs, but it's not true. What matters is not your age, but your general physical condition, and a decisions about that is made by the transplant staff.

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