A very threatening situation is developing in Wales because the Welsh Assembly Government appears to wish to impose an opt-out system which would enable organs to be taken from Welsh residents.
In a recent analysis paper in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) a consultant anaesthetist, Dr Hugh Wellesley, proposes a much more ethical and sensible approach to increasing organ donation based on education and encouraging the altruism of people to donate: see BMJ 2011;343:d5726.
Wellesley also makes a particularly important point about the possible experiment in Wales which is that if there are campaigns against an opt-out system “…then the result for organ procurement could be devastating.”
I strongly support the current organ donation consent system, the opt-in system, for its respect for human rights and for being consistent with the ethical principles of autonomy and beneficence.
I could not agree more. I am currently looking at the literature on reasons for research participation, and I feel that there has to be “something” in it for the donor. The idea of “gifting” organs (or, at its simplest, blood) to another human in need is a powerful motivator for participation in donor schemes. To remove this aspect is, I think, detrimental to the scheme. And that’s before we consider autonomy and beneficence!