The Pope has a donor card – no problem then

The following words are reasons to oppose organ donation by faith leaders (provided by the Organ Donation Taskforce report on organ donation):

“The benefit is that [opt in system] is a more informed decision and doesn’t put the person in a quandary.” (Jasdev Singh Rai, British Sikh Consultative Forum)

“The question is of personal autonomy, and being able to make decisions for yourself. So for me, we should stay with the opt in.” (Mufti Zubair Butt, Muslim Council of Britain)

“Advantage is that people have choice, and I think that if there are some deeply held religious views that the body or organs should not be tampered with, then I suppose it is an issue of human rights laws that they should have that right to refuse to donate.” (Khurshid Ahmed, British Muslim Forum)

“I would think that you may see a backlash with increased opt out, not only in the Jewish community but also from other communities.” (David Katz, Board of Deputies of British Jews)

“By default we could create a promotion campaign that says ‘opt out’ and for this reason opt out is worrying.” (Katei Kirby, African Caribbean Evangelical Alliance)

“There is a danger of people overreacting because they see it as becoming not human anymore. This danger is not overstated.” (David Jones, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales)

“It would up the stakes for people who are sceptical. Currently, those who are sceptical are happy to grumble on sidelines. It is likely to precipitate an anti-organ transplant movement that doesn’t exist now.” (David Jones, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales)

Grumble grumble, fucking grumble.

But intersting to see that, by and large, these aren’t religious reasons, so to speak, to oppose organ donation, but rather issues of personal autonomy.

There is limited scope for diplomatic response to this, and I shouldn’t like to travel down the road of asking whether the dead enjoy human rights, but simply saying this: does their uncomfort about what happens to their organs after death justify the jeopardy of 8,000 people who continue to wait for organs by the 28% – a mere 28% – of people who are registered as donors. No.

There is no reason to worry oneself about what happens to our organs after death, put simply, you’re dead, it won’t be a problem for you not having kidneys.

Instead of religious reasons for being dubious of organ donation, the taskforce spelled the myths reasons why some are worried, refuse or reconsider being an organ donor. They are as follows: the belief that medics would make less of an effort to keep a person alive if their organs could be donated; the same doctor who looks after a sick individual is also involved in acquiring transplants and; only the organs of the young are used for transplants.

To prove this isn’t a rant against religious sensibilities, consider the fact that Pope Benedict has an organ donor card. And he carries it as an “act of love”.

The Times notes:

In reality it is highly unlikely that any organs would be transplanted from Pope Benedict after his death, since the bodies of pontiffs are interred intact and revered. Until the death of John Paul II in 2005 they were embalmed.

Maybe this act of love is in full knowledge that the love never has to be released, as such, but it is worth remembering that religious ideas do not necessarily explain away a person’s weird fear of donating organs after death.

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