By Shirley Edwards
September 28, 2013
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
ORGAN TRAFFICKING AND HARVESTING
[These are my views as a woman living in England, on how the culture and spirit of my country has changed over 50 years. Why the country does not feel protected or strong any more, how it has lost, and is losing it values and decency, and how we are daily losing our free speech.]
I can still recall the day I collected his belongings from the hospital. A small old case with his pyjamas and dressing gown. A toothbrush and comb, personal belongings, never to be used again. These were my father’s effects.
They were nothing really, but just for this short moment in time, they meant something. There was an essence of respect and gratitude attached to them, and to him.
A post-mortem was to be carried out. There was a tinge of abuse knowing that someone was cutting him open. I tried to put it out of my mind; he was dead but needed to rest in peace. He deserved that now. A hard working man with the history and hell of the Second World War etched in his memory, he was a stranger to them; an unknown father, husband and son, known only to God. They shouldn’t be touching him. He had already given so much.
Driving home that day, I also had no idea of an unseen miracle about to take place. The tissue, veins and organs of a new life were being created. How strange life and death are. But how strange we have also lost our sense of ‘wonderment’ and ‘respect’ for it. What has happened to mankind to change its opinions?
People talk so often of the mind, body and spirit. We are apparently all spiritual beings having a bodily experience. Why does anyone care how dead bodies are treated?
Wales, a country which lies on the west coast of Great Britain, and which forms part of the United Kingdom made a media appearance last month in relation to the ethics surrounding this. The Welsh Assembly has now passed a law which states that unless people opt-out of being organ donors, the medical profession can now take what it wants without seeking consent when someone dies. They aim for this law to be in place by 2015 They join such countries as Belgium Spain and Austria in their decision. The Welsh Secretary of the British Medical Association made the following statement:
believe that this is the most important piece of legislation created
in Wales since the laws of Hywel Dda.
“A few years ago, Wales was ready to lead the UK on banning smoking in public places, but we didn't have the necessary legal powers.
“This time we are delighted that our National Assembly has shown the rest of the UK the way forward and fully support its implementation. We congratulate AMs for their enlightenment. Patients across the country will now benefit directly or indirectly benefit from this Bill.
Wales, known for its Celtic history and language, and its fight for independence, will also now become known for what is called ‘Presumed Consent’. This could affect all British people in the United Kingdom once it crosses over the invisible border between us. And it may. Although the presumed consent was rejected almost five years ago in England, Wales could be the prototype for reducing the waiting list of patients who are waiting for organ transplants in the whole of the United Kingdom. By 2015, anyone over the age of 18 who dies in Wales can have their organs removed.
“Why not give the gift of life to someone who can be saved?” has been the reasoning used by many in the medical profession and also the lobby groups who are concerned about the lack of donor matches.
Is Wales, whose anthem is ‘the land of our fathers’, now being ‘used’ as the leading force for us to follow their way. I think so. The Welsh Secretary also stated it. What would the generations before us, our fathers, actually think of this? Although the Welsh Secretary believes Hywel Dda would be proud of Wales, many Welsh people also voiced their objection to the decision. Who would Hywel Dda really have represented?
I know what my father would think.
Organ donation was unheard of just 45 years ago; it was in 1967 that Christian Barnard carried out the very first heart transplant. Since then mankind has come around to the idea of organ transplants, and many people do carry organ donor cards. Donation has become a new normality in our way of thinking. Though many may argue this point, the leap from not carrying out transplants at all to carrying out 4,000 transplants this year, reaching a record high, states otherwise.
Presently, there are 10,000 Britons currently on the waiting list for organ donation. Donation, however, can not only consist of Kidneys, Heart, Liver, Lung and Pancreas, it also covers the donation of Body Tissues, such as Heart Valves, Bone Tissues and Skin and Eye Tissue. Many people are surprised if you tell them that a donor still has to be kept ‘alive’ in order for an organ to be removed. This is something people don’t often think deeply about.
Once people would have been very shocked at such a procedure. Removing a body part to put inside someone else was once a very alien practice. It is now a very accepted practice. Documentaries illustrating the life giving skills of transplant operations are now common place on a weekly basis in all homes, and have been for many years.
People are no longer shocked or squeamish at the sight of the scalpel. The intricate and skilful hands of the surgeon are a marvel to the onlooker.
In stark contrast is the absence of the filming of abortive procedures, considered much too horrific for the viewer to watch. It seems doctors not only want to give life, but some also have no problem in taking it away.
The Anatomy and Physiology of the human body is the most fascinating example of creation. How can anyone deny the existence of God? It is strange however that in our exposure to TV viewing of surgical procedures, mankind has actually become de-sensitised to the wonderment of human creation. The surgeon has become the giver of life.
Accolades abound for the many surgeons who have successfully carried out many organ transplants. In October, 2007 the TV Pride of Britain Award gave the lifetime achievement award to a very famous heart surgeon, Sir Magdi Yacoub.
In 1983, Sir Magdi Yacoub was the first doctor in the UK to perform a double heart and lung transplant. He then went on to pioneer and perform the UK's first domino heart transplant - where a patient receiving heart and lungs donates their own heart to someone else. Sir Yacoub is also credited with performing an operation on the UK's youngest heart transplant patient at just 10 days old.
Sir Magdi Yacoub appeared to be a very humble man, with a very genuine concern for his patients, but I did not hear a recipient of his skill, on this particular programme, thank God for their gift of extended life.
With the passing of the law for ‘presumed’ consent, what will be the implications and attitude towards people who do opt-out? As we become more deeply indoctrinated into the belief that our bodies can be deemed more useful dead than alive, will people who have opt-out instructions on their records be denied medical treatment because of a presumed selfishness by others in the future? What happens to distraught family members who will no longer have any contribution to the decisions being made about their loved ones bodies? And who decides when a person is dead?
It must be remembered and highlighted there have many instances where people have regained full health when all hope has been lost. In the enthusiasm to help another will such hope or care be compromised? And have we learnt the lesson from the mistakes made from the Liverpool Care Pathways where instructions were placed on patient’s records without their knowledge.?
We obviously care about people who need transplants, and want them well; no-one can deny that. No-one wants another person to suffer when they can be helped. Not at all. Currently there is a mutual respect for the bereaved and also for the suffering.
For some people, donation can be a wonderful gift. However, it can no longer be called a gift, when your body becomes the property of the medical profession based on mere presumption.
Dan Boucher, Wales’s public affairs officer for Christian charity CARE, said: ‘If the Bill does not respect either the consent of the deceased or of their family, there is a real risk of this legislation backfiring as people feel pressurized by the state and withdraw from donation.
It is also reported that as an incentive of a reward, in exchange for a gift, organ donators may also be offered their funeral expenses to be paid for by the NHS. This is taxpayer’s money. Are you willing to sell your body for their gold, or would you rather give a free gift to another?
In 2007, Sir Liam Donaldson, who was then Chief Medical Officer stated that "We have something of a crisis in this country.” He went on to say he also wanted a change in the law to make it compulsory that organs are removed from a dead body under presumed consent unless they carry a card abstaining from such a procedure. He stated that people were dying needlessly. It is a scandal. Every day at least one patient dies while on the transplant waiting list.
The article went on further to say that that most people want to donate organs; ‘they just never get around to carrying a donor card’.
Therefore, similarly, I do hope that people who do not wish to participate in organ donation get around to carrying an opt-out card. As in the words of Sir Liam Donaldson himself, most people just never get around to it! Will you?
In 1999 Professor John Harris, an international authority on bioethics from Manchester University, also called for a change in the law to allow people to sell live organs! Here, more recently, he still speaks of why people should be compulsory organ donors.
The scandal Sir Liam Donaldson referred to in regards to the waiting list for donors, and the promotion of selling organs by Professor John Harris, could also be applied to the scandal of un-necessary deaths and harm created to the poor who sell their organs out of desperation for money. Does anyone care about them? Organ Trafficking is a huge money making industry.
Anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes has spent many years exposing the problems of human exploitation in regards to selling organs in poor communities
In 2000 she exposed an international ring of organ sellers. Some transplants of which took place in major New York City Hospitals.
Most recently in an article from Sept 3, 2013 she wrote,
“Living kidney sellers suffer from post-operative infections, weakness, depression, and some die from suicide, wasting, and kidney failure. Organs Watch documented five deaths among 38 kidney sellers recruited from small villages in Moldova.”
The selling of organs, both legally and illegally seems to me to be an abusive and exploitive act. Taking them under the ‘disguise’ of ‘presumed consent’ is still thought by many to be ‘exploitive’.
The current organ donation card should remain as it is for those people who wish to be a donor. Those who want to give a gift. More promotion of being an organ donor would be better, rather than creating potential problems and distress in the future. The motto on the bottom of the organ donor card reads ‘I want to help others live after my death’
I believe our bodies should not become the ownership of those who did not create and give life to them in the first place. I am concerned about the serious implications that will arise from compulsory/presumed consent organ donation, and the trend that is making people feel morally obligated and ‘guilty’ in complying with the demands of medicine.
The law which has been passed in Wales is another step towards the loss of freedom. The ‘opt out’ clause a clever intermediary device, used to soften the outcome. Sadly, it may create much pain as the urgency required in removing organs overlooks a patients true wishes.
I am thankful to surgeons at times, many are very skilled and extremely dedicated; but my thanks will always go to God, the giver of life, who sometimes uses surgeons for good. We should never hold them up as being experts used for making important decisions about laws which affect our lives.
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How lovingly would we have cared for the body of Christ, had we been there when he was taken from the cross? How important were the three days prior to his resurrection?
His gift was a selfless act of Love. He came to give and not take.
There is also a message in his life for the lost, lonely, sick and bereaved. Do we see and hear it?
Presume: To take for granted as being true in the absence of proof. To venture without authority or permission. To act overconfidently, take liberties. To take unwarranted advantage of something, go beyond the proper limits.
Magdi Yacoub honoured with lifetime achievement award
2- Record number of organ transplants in UK
3- Now a law that assumes you're an organ donor: Welsh Assembly bill means body parts will be used unless person had already opted out.
4- Organs Trade
5- Organ trafficking is still a protected crime.
6- Eye for an eye? Organ donation urged for all.
© 2013 Shirley Edwards - All Rights Reserve
Shirley Edwards was born and lives in Great Britain. She has always worked in administration, but have also taught and studied complimentary health. In administrative roles, she has worked within The Church of England. She also worked for some years as a volunteer within the hospice movement.
Shirley has an interest in all health issues, loves the British countryside, and enjoys writing. She is thankful for talk radio and loves listening.
Shirley has always been concerned about the loss of freedoms in her country, also the demise of America, a country she loves for the original reasons on which it was founded. She believe in the Pursuit of Genuine Happiness.
E-Mail: [email protected]