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Presumed consent to organ donation

05 October 2011


From the Revd Richard Mulcahy

Sir, — When reading the editorials from 100 years ago, it seems as if the Church Times was on the wrong side of many issues, such as women’s suffrage and the “moral superiority” of the “white race”. Last week’s editorial (30 September) against presumed consent for organ dona­tion appears to run the same risk.

When we die, our bodies no longer belong to us. That is why the wishes of someone carrying a donor card can be overturned by relatives. As Christians, while we will treat the body reverently, our focus should be on our heavenly rather than earthly bodies. In that case, why should we object to using organs to save other lives if the deceased has not directly ruled it out?

The question of “presumed consent” specifically requires relatives to be informed, and objections to be taken into account, while perhaps sparing relatives the difficult decision whether to donate.

This is no repeat of Alder Hey and Bristol. Most importantly, this is not “the state’s” taking ownership of bodies, but hospitals’ attempting to treat all patients as best they can.

The evidence is mixed. Not all countries with presumed consent have higher donation rates than those without. But there is enough of a case for Wales and the Welsh government to take this route to try to improve the number of transplants, which, as you noted, is far below the need across the UK.

High Cross Drive
Newport NP10 9AB

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