Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A hard question to ask.

The General Medical Council is recommending that all doctors should ask dying patients and their relatives about their willingness to donate organs after death. I really do not know how such a recommendation could be phrased. Its possible to imagine that sometimes it would be appropriate to raise the issue. But in other cases, it would be impossible to approach the subject without being just about as insensitive as its possible to be. No doubt Dr. Sharon Burton, senior policy advisor to the GMC is right when she says that the more the issue is raised, the more organs will be donated, and the more lives saved. But at what price to civilised behaviour?

I do not know what to think about this with any certainty. And neither does Dr. Tony Callard, Chairman of the British Medical Council's Ethics Committee. In the same Telegraph article, (I cannot find the link) he's quoted as saying he is keen to see a rise in organ donations without causing additional distress to patients. I think we could all sign up to that, but it doesn't tell us whether he agrees with Br Burton's proposition or not. These ethical questions are so difficult.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think it would be insensitive to ask a dying person whether they can harvest their organs. They might as well turn up to the deathbed with a hammer and chisel!!! No, what we need is good information about being a donor in schools and in the media. There should be NO presumed consent and NO deathbed Frankenstein chats! I am very in favour of organ donation but not through coersion, guilt or manipulation.