With absolutely no apologies for returning to this subject, I have taken the unusual step of writing to my MP, Anneliese Dodds.
There is currently a proposal, widely supported by politicians from all sides of the political spectrum, to change the rules on organ donation in England from “opt-in” to “opt-out”. Whilst I recognise the desperate need for more organs, I urge you to oppose this move on both moral and practical grounds.
For the record, I have carried a donor card for over forty years and would always encourage other to do so.
The proposal treats citizens as the property of the state. In a free country, our bodies should be ours to dispose of as we wish.
There is no evidence that, even if enacted, an opt-in approach will increase the number of organs available, making the proposal little more than a piece of vacuous and, to those in need, cruel virtue signalling.
The underlying problems are with families blocking donations and poor donor recruitment.
It was reported this week (The Times, 3rd September) that 3,000 donations had been blocked by family objections in the past year. The proposed legislation still depends on family consent and there is no reason to think that families are more likely to consent when they don’t know the deceased’s wishes than when they do.
Donor recruitment in England is poor – when was the last time you saw an advert about registering as a donor? A recent campaign in Scotland has increased the donor register to include more than 50% of the population.
The answer, I would suggest, is to keep the opt-in system, change the law to prevent families from blocking the clearly expressed wishes of adult donors and put more effort into recruitment. In my lifetime, we have successfully saved lives by changing hearts and minds on drink-driving and smoking – we should do the same for organ donation.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for all the hard work that you do as an MP.