13 January 2014

Organ donation...

Organ donation - by far the biggest and probably most conversational topic I have covered yet. I feel it is important to raise discussion on topics that are maybe hard to cover but worth discussing. Some may not agree with my views and will have a completely different standing from my own and that is perfectly normal. That is the reason I am hoping to spark debate. I think organ donation is a key question to ask in life, maybe you haven't given it much thought in the past? Some people may know straight off what path they are going to take, others may still be undecided.

There are times when the question of organ donation resurfaces in my mind, I am not certain where I stand with my personal decision. I suspect many people think it is a simple question, and I know we are encouraged to become an organ donor. 'It is the right thing to do'.
This post is a little longer than usual but please continue reading, it is an important issue to raise/discuss.

I feel I am a good person with a good heart. It is in my nature to help others. However I feel uneasy about giving my organs away. 'You won't need them when it is time to donate' and in common sense you are right, there will come a time (hopefully in old age) when I won't be around to need my organs. Do I want someone else to have them? If it was anything else we were discussing i'm sure I would say of course you can have them, anything to help someone in desperate need. So why do I feel unsure about sharing my organs with somebody in need? It is something that doesn't lay easy with me, i'm not sure why. I know what people presume 'the right thing' to do is but that doesn't make my choice any easier.
It is a big choice to make in life.

Sadly everyone has felt the grief and sadness of loosing someone dear. It never gets easier. Loosing a loved one is one of the worst times in life. Not so long ago I lost a colleague who was battling her own journey with Ulcerative Colitis. Through complications with her treatment she ended up becoming very unwell and was put onto the transplant list as she had liver failure. I have seen first hand the agony of 'waiting' for a suitable organ to become available. It is far too easy for me to sit here and say 'why is the wait for an organ so long' and that is hypocritical of me. In future there will be a person just like her who will be questioning why I couldn't help them. After a long wait she eventually got her liver transplant but sadly lost her battle due to a blood clot. There is comfort in knowing she had a healthier 3 months before her passing. A huge number of people turned out for her funeral, her spirit touched so many people she came into contact with.

From a U.K. stance - Wales currently has an 'opt-in' system. You sign up to the donor register that gives permission to use your organs once you pass away. This system is due to change I believe on the 1st December 2015 and will become an 'opt-out' system. After this date it will be presumed that you have given consent to use your organs unless you state you do not wish this. I believe this is in order to raise the number of available organs and cut down on the number of people who 'don't get around to signing up'.

Another reason I raise this issue of donation is because I have had first hand experience of a slightly different topic, 'blood donation'.
During August 2009, I was admitted to hospital because I had left my Ulcerative Colitis untreated for over a year. It was the start of my illness and I had no idea why I was running back and forth to the bathroom all day and night. I simply ignored all symptoms, refused to discuss it, shoved my head under the duvet and convinced myself I was going to die. After a whole year of leaving my illness I found the courage to check myself into hospital. During the next fortnight I had so many different tests, drugs, scans, infusions. I was a wreck! My body had almost shut down on me, I was 6 stone in weight all bones. My hair was falling out and I became Anemic as there was no goodness left in my body. I won't sugar coat it, I went through hell! I was pumped so full of drugs and was so emotionally beat that I was away with the fairies. Naively and without hardly any consultation I was given a blood transfusion. It was the hardest thing for me to accept, having someone else's blood now coursing through my body. It is hard to get your head around it. I will forever be indebted to the loving and kind person who took the time to donate blood, for without them I don't know if I would be here.

My question is, why do I feel differently to blood donation than organ donation? Some may argue that it is exactly the same thing. Would I share blood, I think I would (although now I have had a transfusion I am not eligible). Would I share bone marrow or other procedures, I think if possible I would. So why then do I hit a brick wall when it comes to my organs?

Where do you stand?
Are you signed up? Have you been meaning to sign up and haven't yet got around to it? If you agree with it, why not sign up today? What have your loved ones chosen to do? Are they pro/against donation? Have you discussed it as a family?

I asked friends for their opinions. One said 'I would donate to my own family, maybe certain friends'.
Another is fully in favour of donating and has already signed up.
Me? I still do not know. For now I would like to hold onto mine though I may come to a different decision in later life.

As always I would like to hear your thoughts and opinions on this topic. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and I am aware many will disagree with each other. I hope to have a grown up discussion on a topic which I believe goes further than just asking what is 'right' or 'wrong'.


  1. If I were healthy, I'd be donating blood and giving up my organs when I die. I'd reconsider my organ donations if my family really wanted me "complete" when I was gone (not that I'm "complete" now sans colon and all... ), but I'd much prefer to help someone in need than be buried/cremated with a few extra parts.

    Nobody should feel obligated to give blood or organs, but I'm grateful to have the option to give/receive when the time comes.

  2. The state of my body is so poor after, 38 years of Crohn's, many resections and tansfusions, as well as a stoma. I have no problems in donating any organ that a living human might gain from after my death. It's come out of a lifetime of illness, pain and suffering and I have seen the desperation amongst so many who are in need of organ donation. From a personal perspective I have no negative thoughts only positive ones to assist them if they have a need. I only wished I hadn't personally developed organs that have deteriorated and fear this might leave my wish to donate a failure.I do agree with the opt out as the opt in often leaves organs left and not used. I accept it is always a personal choice but I choose to donate.