British NHS May Give Hospitals Money to Procure Organ Donations

International   |   Rebecca Taylor   |   Aug 7, 2012   |   1:59PM   |   Washington, DC

Our modern society has commodified the human body so much that I feel sometimes that I am living in a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.  It seems that none of us are safe if someone else thinks that they could use our parts better than we can.

Abandoned IVF embryos are seen not as the full human organisms that they are but repositories of harvestable biological material that they must forfeit to “heal the sick.”

If you are in a persistent vegetative state, then some think you should forfeit your organs to save others.

Now the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), Britain’s government run health care system, is considering giving financial incentives to hospital units for providing organs for donation and an opt-out system where it is presumed UK citizens want their organs harvested even if they have not said they want to be a donor.

From the Guardian:

The NHS is considering its biggest shakeup of the ethical, legal and professional rules governing transplants, floating ideas to prolong the lives of people who have no chance of surviving in order to harvest their organs, and to make people opt out rather than in to the donor register.

The options are included in a survey of medical, scientific and public opinion to be launched this week to test the boundaries of what might be acceptable, as a precursor to significant reforms.

The survey, on the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) website from Saturday with a deadline of 21 September, will also suggest:

• Giving priority for transplants to the 19.1 million registered donors in the UK.

• Deploying new technologies to preserve organs beyond the current method of packing them on ice.

• New financial rewards for intensive care units for every organ they provide. Hospitals currently receive about £2,000 per organ to cover their costs, which the NHSBT compares with the €7,000 (£5,500) paid in Croatia.

• Presuming consent unless people have actively opted out.

I am sorry but the audacity to think of adopting an opt-out system is outrageous to me. I understand that people are sick and need organs.  I know that some of them are very young.  But just because they are sick does not mean that a health system can assume I want to have my organs harvested while my heart is still beating. That is I decision I must actively make by opting-in. That is what “donate” means. No one can or should be able to presume I would make that choice. That is unless you see me, not as an individual, but as a bag of organs that would be used better by someone else.



I think this is very bad. We abandoned the human embryo to be harvested for biological material thinking that an embryo was not like us and so could be exploited for parts with no ill effect. But in doing so we made the deal that a human life maybe forfeit to save another.  We threw ourselves under the bus when we failed to protect the smallest and most innocent of our species and now we are all increasingly looking like harvestable biological material.