Thousands of Europeans die each year waiting for an organ transplant. Tens of thousands are on waiting lists across the EU, but there is a chronic shortage of donors to meet that demand. Could switching to an ‘opt-in’ system help?
When a person leaves no instructions about organ donation during their lifetime, then doctors often seek consent from next of kin after they have died. Unsure what their relatives would have wanted, the vast majority reject donation, and healthy organs are buried or cremated.
Most European countries now operate an ‘opt-out’ system, which has boosted organ donation dramatically. However, some countries (including Italy and the United Kingdom) are hesitant. It’s an ethically sensitive debate, because many people have personal or religious reasons not to want to donate their organs after death.
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in by Dimitris arguing that organ donation should be automatic when somebody with healthy organs dies. Is that ethical, though? Would it be better to assume they don’t want to donate their organs? Or would more lives be saved by implementing an ‘opt-out’ system?
Should everyone be considered organ donors unless they ‘opt-out’? We asked Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their positions on this question, and it’s up to YOU to vote for the policies you favour. See what the different MEPs have to say, then vote at the bottom of this debate for the one you most agree with! Take part in the vote below and tell us who you support in the European Parliament!
I don’t see any reason why we should not encourage people to show solidarity by becoming organ donors. It would also be useful to improve European coordination to ensure the safety and security of organ donors. Unfortunately, nowadays there is a black market for organs, and this is a problem that we have to tackle. Of course, encouraging people to become organ donors should not be interpreted as an obligation. It must only be a suggestion that is made through awareness raising campaigns and increasing safety guarantees for all involved.
I think that could be a solution, because I think it’s very important that we have organ donation. But I don’t want to force everybody to do it, so if they feel bad about it they should still be able to say ‘No’. So, maybe an ‘opt-out’ system is better than the one we have now, where you really have to take the step and say: ‘Yes, I want my organs to be donated’. Because a lot of people wouldn’t take that step. So, yes, maybe it’s better to do it the other way around.
I consider this аs a very personal decision. Each and every European must decide according to his or her personal beliefs whether to become an organ donor or not.
We should not have politicians deciding whether or not people should automatically donate organs. It’s a thorny issue and a deeply personal one that raises a number of serious ethical questions over the rights of the individual over his or her body and the ownership of the body in life and in death.
This essentially amounts to state ownership of the body where your organs are registered on a national data base unless you decide they should not be. This debate has no space in politics. We require politicians to run the country and speak on behalf of the electorate but we do not expect them to start rearranging the ethical framework of sensitive debates…