Thursday, November 04, 2010

Why I'm on the Organ Donation Register

It's surprising how one is reminded of ones mortality but today was one of those days. Respected blogger and minister Angela Shire-Jones outlines her concerns about Organ Donation. While overall it was diplomatic in tone, I believe she missed some key points.....

Firstly, I don't believe that we 'play God' when it comes to organ transplants. By utilising our bodies we ensure that each of us is able to make the most of our time on this planet. During this time though this can and do go wrong. If your car breaks, you go to the mechanic and get a new part. Why can't we do the same with humans? Thankfully we don't live in a horrendous Germany style system where body parts are removed from living individuals (without consent). Instead the majority of the items on the donor card cover 'when dead'. Therefore all we say is this – take my body and put it to use. We each have been given the gift of live therefore it is also up to us to share it.

Second, I don't believe that the world is just made up of individuals. Instead we are collectives (nations), continents and a global community. Through our interconnected networks we grow and flourish and potentially hit that gold standard of 'life in all its fullness'. Yet, just as we hope for love and support as times go well - we should also be willing to provide love and support when times are not so good. If we have a 'spare' organ then why shouldn't we donate it to someone more needy then us? Simply considering the self ultimately leads to unsustainable lifestyles modelled on nothing else but a dog eat dog world which benefits no-one and hurts everyone and everything in the process. Look around us at the economy and the environment. Two giant systems being destroyed by humanities selfishness, which have to hope for humanities selflessness to create a more just and equitable system.

Thirdly, science is one of the greatest skills that humanity can develop. Through trial, error, success and fudge, science generally advances lives. While there are some gross errors of judgement made, such as GM Crops and Nuclear Weapons, the majority of work carried out can only advance humanity. Within the context of Angela's argument was the idea that 'natural self selection' won't occur if we give transplants. I'm going to widen it slightly and say, to a lesser or greater extent every time we go to the doctor/nurse and end up under the knife, receiving treatment, we are playing God. We are admitting that our feeble frame is unable to cope with what it is receiving therefore we additional help.

This additional help isn't bad. I was born around 10 weeks early and I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the dedicated staff and surgeons at the hospital. That's it. Were they playing God when they put me under the knife 3 times? Were they playing God when I received blood transfusions? Were they playing God when my disabled Twin had his legs broken and re-set to enable him greater capacity for mobility?

Should I have died and should Mark have poor gate and very limited mobility? Or should we realise that medical judgements are as much about seeing the potential and wanting the best. It's as though the Quaker principle of 'seeing that of God in everyone' is laid bare on the operating table and in the hospital as it is through a mixture of hope, science and luck that humans live when things look grim.

During my lifetime I want to continue to live out the challenge of the Good Samaritan. I don't wish to be pious and keep on walking, I want to stop – get my hands dirty and ensure all have quality of life. These ethics come to me in a heartbeat therefore it only seems right that I continue to help others, even after my heart stops beating.

Go on – sign up today -click here

1 comment:

  1. Hi Thanks John,
    I dont disagree with what you say concerning medical science at all - my question is the same as the campaign - IS IT FAIR?
    I too don't think the world is made up of individuals. We in the Western world can AFFORD this luxury of organs, and this is just one more way in which the West has been exploiting the rest of the world. The market in organs grows exponentially.. and who really counts the cost of the kidney being from a dissident prisoner in China or a refugee brother from Eastern Europe?

    My fear is that people are not thinking big enough - What will be the impact of this form of genetic manipulation on the whole of humanity, not just on this society?

    Granted we all play god - but there is, as you will have already noted, increasing market pressure to harvest body parts. At what point will we too move from donation to requistion?

    But again, my point is not that saving or extending life is bad - but that there is something MORE than 'just life' which is more valuable to the whole of humanity, but which I suspect there is no money left to pay for..

    And all this before we even get to the theology...