It was reported today that organs from hundreds of [deceased] registered donors could not be made available for transplant in the last five years, due to families blocking it.
Gregory Moorlock, an expert in the ethics of organ donation from Warwick Medical School, offers his view on the story:
"Organ donation occurs at a traumatic time for relatives of the deceased, but it provides an opportunity to bring about some good from a terrible situation. If someone has made it clear that they want to help others by donating their organs, it is not obvious why the wishes of anybody else should be decisive. As adults, we generally get to decide what happens to our bodies, and organ donation could be considered one of the most important of these decisions.
"Organ donation against relatives’ wishes may cause distress, but people dying while waiting for an organ transplant is also distressing. At the same time, we must be aware that organ donation relies on the goodwill of the public, and that harming public perceptions of donation may reduce willingness to donate.
"One solution is to modify the Organ Donor Register to allow people to specify whether or not they want their relatives to be consulted. This would ensure that potential donors’ wishes can be respected fully. In the meantime, this story highlights the importance of talking about your wishes with relatives, and making it clear just how important or otherwise organ donation is to you."
19 October 2017
Further information contact:
Luke Walton, International Press Manager
+44 (0) 7824 540 863
+44 (0) 2476 150 868
L dot Walton dot 1 at warwick dot ac dot uk