I try not to weigh in on too many ethical arguments, I believe everyone is entitled to their beliefs, but organ donation is too close to my heart for me to stay out of completely. I think it’s because it’s such an essentially ‘good’ thing to be in favour of, there really isn’t a downside. Obviously your death might be seen as the downside, but that’s pretty much going to happen anyway. My thoughts on the whole subject are fairly simple: you die (fingers crossed reasonably old, quick & painless), you are cremated/buried/mummified depending on your mortal preferences – and that’s probably it. No more breathing, blood-pumping or toxin-ridding required. Even if you believe you’ll be hanging out with Jesus, Buddha, Allah or all of the above, that’s probably the soul part of you, right? Not the flesh and tissue. This may all seem a bit brutal, but who can argue that you need your physical wholeness to enter the next world, achieve nirvana, or just become part of the earth, Lion King style? I haven’t met anyone with a serious philosophical objection to organ removal once you’re pronounced braindead. Here are the scary facts: you are more likely to need a transplant than to become a donor. And although 90% of the population support organ donation, only 25% are on the Organ Donor Register.
However, who’s to say what my opinion on all this would be without a personal link to organ donation? As I’m sure most of you know, my older sister who I’m very close to was on the brink of death three years ago from progressive lung damage caused by Cystic Fibrosis, and was saved only by the generosity of strangers. A family who bravely rose above all the emotional turmoil of a bereavement and chose to make a difference for several people in dire need of an organ transplant (one person donating can save the life of up to nine people waiting). She received her new lungs in January 2007, and has gone from being a wafer-thin, icy pale thing devoid of energy, barely able to draw breath, to being a rosy-pink, energetic, noisy woman able to get married, get working, move into a new house… the difference is indescribable, all because complete strangers opened their mind to the prospect of giving the gift of life.
My sister made an appearance on GMTV this morning talking about a friend she made through a CF support network online, who is now at the point she was three years ago, the point where doctors sat us down and told us to say our goodbyes, as she had no reserve left to fight another lung collapse. Like Emily, Jessica is miraculously fighting through, but after four years of waiting, it is no longer her responsibility to prolong her life. She has kept her end of the bargain – the transplant waiting list demands staying in the country, not working or going out too much, preserving your health as carefully as possible for the operation – and now the rest of the country needs to chip in and boost her odds of survival. If you do nothing else today, please have a look at the facts , and consider signing up to the NHS donor register. Better still, talk to your family, your partner or your close friends about what they would want for their body if their time was up. If you want to spread the word and help Jess have a shot at the wonderful future my sister has been lucky enough
to experience, please repost Jess’s story in your facebook status, Twitter, blog or email the message to your friends or colleagues. The only way we can stop the amount of people dying per year is to pass this on.