They Haven’t The Heart

It was a grubby little vote in the Scottish Parliament that blocked progress of the organ donation bill this week. Put another way, it means MSPs voted to guarantee Scots will die (more than one a week) of renal failure while they look the other way. People will pay with their lives while our legislators go away to ‘ponder the details.’

You wonder what world of magic forests and silver unicorns our elected elite inhabits. It must be rarified air up there on Mount Olympus with a wee desk in the chamber, an office with a window thinking-space, a secretary and expenses. One that allows you to ignore the pleas of those dependent for their life on your decision – many of whom spend hours several days a week on dialysis.

Not that MSPs are actually opposed to the idea of inclusive organ donation with opt-out. Dearie me, no. They very much agree with that part – the bit that saves lives. It’s just the detail they’re not sure about. If you don’t get the detail right, some people might object and there’ll be a row and accusations will fly. Very untidy. Sure, lives might be saved and hope given but this legislating is tricky stuff and not to be treated lightly. You have to wear a very stern face when you consider the implications of the details. We can’t have voters turning up with ideas for new laws that didn’t come from the gilded cage of creation. In this case, it was actually dreamt up by…by…a journalist. And she was working hand in glove with a Labour MSP Anne McTaggart who would claim the credit!

Saving lives is all very well but when there are reputations at stake…

I was reminded of the fiasco over euthanasia when perfectly workable solutions to end distress never quite satisfied the nit-pickers. They too were desperately keen to end unnecessary suffering – they just couldn’t see any practical way of doing it. Holyrood is a parliament that hasn’t got the guts to save life and hasn’t the guts to end it either.

Bring us a doctors’ contract, a bypass or a fiscal framework and we hoist the gleaming sword of justice. Bring us a moral issue and we skulk away in silence.

I had a look at the attempts to bring organ opt-out into law. Evidence was first taken in 2012. The committee decided to await an imminent report on organ donation. Then they waited for a second report on donation. They heard from Welsh Assembly staff (where they’ve managed to implement it despite those troublesome details). They had another debate in 2014 and referred it to another committee. They heard a petition from the Evening Times in 2015 and last month closed that down in order to debate it this week. Stutter and obfuscation at every stage. There’s always a reason not to act, even the knowledge that every week another Scot paying for Holyrood dies for want of a kidney.

It isn’t just Wales that’s overcome the troublesome details Holyrood finds insurmountable. All over Europe the crashing logic of assuming all organs to be available to save the lives of others has been implemented to enormous success. Even here the public say most of them would allow their organs to be used but they just don’t get round to registering. What the Hell are our brave MSPs afraid of?

When Scotland last attacked this issue we wanted to get donor rates up by a half. The health minister said: ‘This will be achieved without changing existing law on organ donation. However, in addition to this, I think it’s really important that we consider seriously every potential way of increasing donation rates.’ What was Nicola Sturgeon thinking? If the evidence is that legislation is a way of increasing numbers, why not legislate?

Even the doctors back this one, unlike euthanasia. Maybe it’s that wimpish reluctance to play God that afflicts MSPs when they think the churches might go tsk tsk. But this is a straightforward case of political will. The precedent is set across Europe so there’s nothing to fear from awkward details. It requires leadership. Like booze pricing and smoking bans it needs the boldness that comes from belief and a democratic mandate. There is no down side.

The bill should have been voted through and later amendments made. It fell by three votes because enough SNP members voted against. Now MSPs will wait for yet another report on organ donation and conduct…wait for it…a consultation. This is a failure of parliament and a failure of the SNP government…one that dozens of Scots will pay for with their life.

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57 thoughts on “They Haven’t The Heart

  1. Bugger (the Panda)

    Not a day of honour for SNP

  2. The first time i have been disappointed in the SNP. They can have my organs when i die if there any use. I have carried a organ donation card for more years than i want to remember.

  3. The state does not own my body. The assumption that it does is pretty fucking unpleasant and unwelcome, thanks.

    I’m all for throwing a lot more energy into getting people to carry donor cards, but if a law like this comes in, I know for a fact that the first thing I do will be to opt out. I also know at least one person who would refuse a transplant because they couldn’t know if it was given voluntarily or stolen out of some grieving mother’s son without either of them being able to say “no.”

    Here’s a better idea. The biggest problem with getting people to fill in donor cards is inertia. A lot of people just think “I’ll get round to it sooner or later” or they figure that their family will make the right call when the times comes. In reality, it’s often way more complicated than that. So how about when you register to vote, you’re given a card with boxes to tick saying which organs you’re willing to donate. If you just assume that everyone is going to have a card then the vast majority of people will offer at least something. Some people might be sentimental about their heart or their eyes, for example, but I bet most people would say “kidney, liver…yeah, no problem.” That takes out the thoroughly offensive idea that the state owns my body but substantially increases the likelihood of virtually everyone in the country being explicit willing donors.

    I’m sorry for the people who die. Given that I’m in a high risk category for kidney failure later in my life, I even have skin in the game. But I cannot accept that we should ignore the principle for the pragmatism here. No-one owns my body but me and, after death, my nearest and dearest. An SNP government that votes for this would be an SNP government I’d find it hard to support again,.

    • I am all for a more effective and logical argument being made for organ donation. I support every effort which could be made to persuade people to sign the card, do whatever they need to do to be sure their organs are used if that’s what they want, but the slippery slope of saying that the state can dictate what is done with my body parts is more than I can support. My body is mine, not the state’s, and I will say what I want done with it.

    • Could not agree more. Anybody who legislates that upon death, my body parts are now owned by the state to do with what they please will never get my vote again.

      It’s sad that there are not enough organs to go round, but my body is my body.

      I also have a family member whom would likely refuse organs under this law, if it was ever passed, because again she would not know if they were given with consent or were ripped from a newly “deceased’s” body (and make no bones about it, that is what happens.) who did not consent to their organs being forcibly donated.

      I used to ardently support Organ Donor-ship, two factors have turned me away from it:

      1: Talk of this type of law over the years, as it’s my choice, not the govt’s;
      2: My mother-in-law, whom was nurse described in great detail the attitude of the medical staff she worked with when it came to harvesting time. No thought was given to the grieving family, they did not care what state the unwanted meat was going to be left in. The harvest was all that matters.

      Can you imagine how much worse that attitude could shift if your body was the property of the govt at time of death. “It’s dicing time!”

      If there is a problem getting people to register, then they need to do more to get them to register, rather than rely on that same lackadaisical attitude in people, so that do not un-register, if forced consent becomes law.

    • Kenny,

      Contrarywise, the world owns you. You are the world, every atom, every creation beyond that is just you in a more complex form.. Denying that, it is just ridiculous.

    • “The state does not own my body.” I concur, as someone who has carried a donor card for over forty years, the first thing I would do is opt out as well, although I would continue to carry the card, but I’m against giving the state the presumed right to do what they want, re my remains.

    • I would opt out too, immediately.

    • “The state does not own my body.”

      Neither do you, once your dead. Better someone else has use of it than the worms.

  4. Wouldn’t other legislation need to be changed to protect doctors from prosecution by relatives. We have MSPs deciding others should give their organs.

  5. Organs cannot be harvested from a cadaver and given to a living donor. They can only be taken from a LIVING body, albeit one that is dying or being kept artificially alive.

    When organs are harvested from dying patients who are supposedly ‘dead’ (meaning, ‘brain dead’), their heart rate and blood pressure immediately goes up. Not thay dead then, obviously.

    Death is brought on by the removal of major organs.

    Many doctors are uneasy about this. A difficult one, for sure, but I incline to agree with Kenny.

    • Back in the physiology department in NZ we did a lot of stuff, teaching and research, with cane toads. You can high spinally pith a toad (you stun it, then stick a probe into the base of the brain and mash it, then you turn it around and mash the top of the spinal cord) and it’s heart will continue to beat, it’s kidneys work etc for hours. All you have to do is keep the skin wet so it can ‘breathe’.

      If you removed such a toad’s kidney it’s HR and pressure would likely increase too. A lot of complex stuff gets done autonomously or through the spinal cord. If you hang up a high spinal toad and put a bit of acid soaked filter paper on it’s thigh then the hindlimb will bend through many joints and scratch the precise spot. All without a brain to direct it.

      As humans we are hard wired to see agency in movement, the classic tiger in the grass scenario, a false positive is better than a false negative. So when we see behaviours like that we assume agency must be present. Doctors, by and large, don’t have enough experience of the above, or are not curious enough to find out* and are as prone to see agency as everyone else. Even now I have to override my instincts and remind myself agency cannot be present.

      *It was more that the nature of the course meant they were focussed on simply learning what they needed to know and no more.

      • Consciousness appears to reside in organs too. Where does memory and consciousness go to in a brain injured person who eventually makes some recovery? Where was it residing when it wasn’t evident? How do we know how dead an apparently comotose patient actually is? Have you ever heard of cellular memory? A weird thing can happen when a patient receives a donor organ – they start to take on the likes and dislikes of its original owner. A wife donated a kidney to her dearly beloved husband. The operations went well. They were soon on their feet again and a few weeks later they were out shopping. The husband had always hated shopping, like most men. Couldn’t understand the female fascination with checking labels and comparing goods and prices. As she was persusing the aisles a funny feeling came over him as he suddenly realised, ‘I’m actually quite enjoying this’. It got worse. He started to get interested in gardening, which she loved, but he’d always hated. To top it all, he got interested in the kitchen. One day he thought to himself, ‘I just fancy making something’ and promptly baked a cake. They said it brought them closer together. But not in the way they thought it would.

        Your toad experiment is screepy. We just don’t know, do we? It reminds me of that thought control experiment in the 1970s where an actor posed as a subject in a cubicle, wired up to something, and another subject had to give them electric shocks, which were actually fake, but they didn’t know that. The white coated overseer would tell subject B not to worry if subject A jumped about a bit, it was just a natural physiological reaction and they couldn’t really feel anything. The experiment was to see how far subject B could be persuaded to be obedient to expert authority. Almost all subject Bs were prepared to administer fatal shocks to subject As if they were calmly reassured by the ‘scientist’ that it was just a normal physiological reaction and they couldn’t actually feel anything.

  6. You report the vote was lost by 3. Why so outraged by SNP? Matters of this sort are surely matters of conscience for a free vote rather than whipped. Personally, the opt out is OK with me but I have not read any of the “details”. I trust doctors to do the right thing but maybe if there is evidence that doctors have not always done the right thing I would change my mind.

  7. I am for opt out and hope this will happen early in next parliament. Meanwhile I do not think relatives should be able to refuse the organ donation from a person who has registered as a donor. That is the final act of betrayal of someone who has acted out of altruism.

  8. You can read the BMA Scotland position here:


    There is a section on “myth busting” here:

    And a wee video to watch here:

    The behaviour of MSPs over assisted dying was cowardly and shameful in my view.

    The issue about organ donation opt in/opt out is very different in my view and I don’t think we should conflate the two. Having said that I believe MSPs should have supported the idea of “soft opt out” and worried about the detail afterwards.

  9. The first time in my life I have ever been ashamed of being an SNP member.. I’ll hold my nose vpting for them but as soon as we get independence I’ll be voting for a party with a heart and not a bunch of tribal loyalists and fearty cats. mind I’m only a dialysis patient what do I know and what do the people of Wales know either and all those other countries. SNP are they now the party of cowards?

  10. Like MBC above, I am aware that you have to still be alive when organs are harvested and I feel that the opportunity to satisfy the needs of several patients may well outway my slight chance of recovery. I know how medical economics works. Conscription as an unwilling doner is something I would object to most strongly. What next, will the state help themselves to one of my kidneys while I am still alive?

  11. People under the age of 45 are the ones most likely to be targeted as donors. Doctors want fresh, young, healthy organs to harvest. Older donors carry the risk of disease. I believe there might be an upper age limit for donation? I heard of one donor recipient who developed cancer as a result of an organ transplant which had come from an older patient whose organ had been cancerous. They then tried to sue the hospital, though the donation had in fact extended their life.

    Ethically when donation goes from young donors to young recipients, one feels least queasy or troubled by it. Something good came of a life cut short, and restored promise to another young life. Relatives who lost somebody gain some comfort from thinking a part of their loved one lives on in somebody else.

    When donation goes from the young to the old, I feel most troubled by it. Remember George Best, how he got a new liver and proceeded to ruin the new one. Then there was Laurie Anderson trying to get a wasted Lou Reid a new organ, and feeling quite entitled to it too.

    Tricky, morally.

  12. As the parent of a young man who has been on thrice weekly haemo dialysis in hospital for the past 3 years and previously tied to a machine for peritoneal dialysis ( 4 fluid exchanges nightly through a tube in his stomach) for years at home – I can only say how disAppointed I am by this decision. This should have passed with adjustments later. After all, those with doubts can opt out. I am so angry I want to say it was lack of compassion but to be honest I believe it was more lack of courage.

  13. I am unsure about this law, I have been a blood donor for 25 years and was never an organ donor until last year when my friends mum died really quick from cancer.

    Is there not a better way to promote it or to make it easier to register in this era of social media?

    I just feel uneasy about the state owning your body unless you opt out, I mean if the majority would say they would donate but haven’t signed up would the reverse be any different, “I was going to opt out but never got round to it”.

  14. Well, Wales switched from a full opt-out to a soft opt-out, giving the relatives the theoretical option to tell medics if their loved one had objected for some reason to organ donation. That option wouldn’t be available if for instance a patient is rushed straight to theatre following a fatal road traffic accident and dies on the table before relatives can be informed that their relative has been hospitalised.

    It’s a huge decision to make if you’re making law. I think for a full opt-out you would need to word legislation to allow for a good period of time after bringing in the law to inform every person that this legislation was coming in, so they can decide for themselves.

    Personally I think a soft opt-out makes better sense. A hard opt-out is considered by many to imply that the state owns your body once you die and that is likely to decrease, rather than increase, the likelihood of organ donors being registered.

    There’s a very helpful document produced by the Organ Donation Taskforce that was written in 2008 – it’s written in factual language and is not intended to disrespect anyone personally involved in the need for organs. It’s an academic study. The conclusion is that a hard opt-out is less preferable to one that respects the diversity of opinion.

  15. Just to add, that the BMA did some work on this whole process for the Scottish Parliament.

    “Public support

    One of the major concerns about introducing an opt-out system is the risk of a backlash; the fear that people will object to the new system and opt out of donation as a means of protest. There is a precedent for this. Brazil introduced an opt-out system in 1998 without public support and against a background of public mistrust in the government. The system had to be abandoned after large numbers of people opted out. The BMA has always argued that an opt-out system must have public support before it is introduced. If there is widespread support for the system, the chance of people opting out in protest is significantly reduced; other countries that have introduced such systems have not experienced this problem.”

    Has there been any public consultation on this? This is a bill brought in by a Labour MSP – has she done the groundwork to gauge the public’s views? Or would that have been down to the Scottish Government? Seems to me that this should have been done before the bill even got to Parliament – or did I miss the public consultation?

  16. Hi Derek, here’s something I thought about years ago. Why not when issuing N.I. card numbers include an opt out text number for organ donation. You can say “out completely” or “out then list which organs you do not want to include”
    I know some will say 16 is to young to make that decision, but the S.G. cannot as they gave 16 year old the right to vote in the referendum.
    there are very few people who go through life without a N.I. number therefore the vast majority of the population will have been given the oppotunity to state their prference.

  17. I am 67. I will probably die sometime. If any of my organs were harverstable after my death, then I would see it as my duty to allow that. I doubt any of them would be. But still. The principle of allowing someone else to us my eyes, which still work OK, rather than surrendering them to oblivion? Where’s the negartive?

    I don’t get it.

    • They don’t take them when you’re dead, they take them when you are still alive. It’s a leap of faith to trust the state and the doctors, after all those ‘do not resuscitate’ signs put on comotose patients whose relatives aren’t around to stick up for them.

  18. *negative

  19. I think your article is a bit harsh, Derek, for several of the reasons already stated in the comments. I presume it was a free vote and as MSPs, like the rest of the population, are obviously divided in their opinions over a very delicate and personal issue. There are certainly some aspects I had not considered until I read some of the comments.

    I think the idea of a form included with voter registration might be useful though, but, also think that the public should be fully informed about organ retrieval, etc. not simply expected to donate their organs.

  20. The problem with this issue is people talk about an opt-out as if it’s a panacea that will suddenly see an upsurge in organ donation, but that’s just not the case. Here’s a good article explaining that it’s not as simple as that:

    The key paragraph: “Spain currently has the highest organ donation rate in the world. The Spanish utilize opt-out consent, but their success is credited by experts to measures such as a transplant co-ordination network that works both locally and nationally, and improving the quality of public information available about organ donation.

    And here’s Dr Rafael Matesanz, one of the leading organ donation experts in the world:

    “Most donors are lost not because the family refuses but because potential donors are not detected adequately”

    Personally, I’d have backed the bill if I was an MSP, but it’ll take much more than simply changing to an opt-out system to increase donor rates. As a result, it’s hyperbole to suggest this decision will see lots of folk dying needlessly.

    One of the things raised in those articles is that opt-out systems see fewer “living donor” rates. I know that my parents are against organ donation, or at least my dad is, due to them being a pair of religious weirdos. If I was in a horrific accident and the doctors asked if they could harvest my organs, they would say no. At least with a donor card in my wallet, it’s obvious what my own wishes are.

  21. The detail of the voting might supply relevant information although clearly it would be a free vote that determined the outcome.If the vote was lost by 3 this would suggest that there was a fair spread of division within the parties at Holyrood.

    As a 76 year old, living a fair distance from any major hospital, I think it doubtful that anyone would call upon me to supply them with back up organs but they can have them if they want. There is a Donor Card in my wallet although it has been there for many years so I am unaware if it would work now.. I do recall feeling slightly huffed when I was advised that the Blood Transfusion Service did not want my 50th donation of blood but I got over it.

  22. This and the against vote on euthanasia really gets me every time.
    People in parliaments (and that is all they are, just people) are our representatives and should be representing the views of the public.

    This tripe of a “vote of conscience” for parliamentarians is a throwback to a different time and age and should be done away with – that it remains at all is profoundly anti-democratic. I do mean anti-democratic and not undemocratic – by dint of what is the view parliamentarians held to be superior to and and above and beyond that of the public? The system at its sickest!

  23. I don’t feel comfortable that Derek has chosen ‘renal’ failure as an example to criticise this vote. Scrupulous testing has to take place, even within families, for kidney donation in order to choose a suitable or ‘best’ match and there is as great and sometimes more health risk for the donor as the recipient. We find out these days about dodgy private health organisations encouraging financially struggling students and individuals to donate organs, organs being removed from vulnerable individuals not in a position to be granted the decision for removal. A family member donated a kidney to another family member as a suitable match was not found elsewhere at the time. This was a choice and one which came hard for the recipient who did not want a younger family member with young children to become vulnerable should it turn out there was a family renal weakness in years to come. A doctor at the time did mention the dilemna that youths were often the best donors – with the discussion leading to car crash victims etc.

    A decision to opt out should not result in anyone being villified or criticised – particularly given uncertainty of the activities of increasing overseas private medical organisations creeping into this country and on occasion less than fully scrutinised practices. If TTIP becomes a part of working UK, I feel there could be circumstances where decision-making having been taken out of ‘potential’ donors hands – we are not mature enough or protected enough in this country, as yet, to fully depend on the honesty and best practice of SOME health facilities which may in the near future become operational in Scotland.

    For some of us, it is not an easy thing to contemplate state control in this circumstance at the current time and it is perhaps unfair that an entire population would not have a personal choice – whether it is the right thing to do morally and generously – or if there are still some questionable aspects about practice.

  24. You do not have to carry a card for organ donation in Scotland. You can register online here. Saves any searching for a card. Why not register now if you feel strongly about it.

  25. Why is it that women are to be given absolute control of their bodies, even to the extent of killing their babies yet I am not to be allowed control of my body?

    And don’t bother pretending that abortion isn’t killing babies. What else are they? Tomatoes? Albatross?

  26. You condemn this Bill out of your own Mouth, Derek, ‘The bill should have been voted through and later amendments made.’

    Are you suggesting that Flawed Legislation be Passed into Law—and then Amended? Those who have brought forward the Bill, and who believe it is the done deal and totally applicable, would be the first to fight the Amendments and then you have a complete Guddle that those who voted against are trying to avoid!

    Personally, I’m all for the system, but, until there is a Public Consultation and it is agreed upon by a Majority, I fear the reaction of so many on this Thread, to Opt Out of an Imposed Solution, may make things worse rather than better!

  27. The fact that I only heard about this after the vote shows exactly how much the labour party cares about the public’s views. Having said that, it took me only a half-hour’s research to find out exactly how badly drafted and poorly thought out the legislation was, asd pointed out by commenters above.

    There’s also the ever-present labout hypocrisy of looking to impose proxies and decision makers on the dying, while screaming about a named protector for a living child.

  28. There’s something missing here. No account has been taken of the reasons so many MSPs voted against the Bill. The way Derek Bateman tells it, there were no reasons. Parliamentarians were merely being thrawn. Or timid. Or… whatever. There is no acknowledgement that MSPs might have had genuine reasons to doubt the efficacy of feasibility of the legislation. It would have been helpful to know what their thinking was in order that we might judge for ourselves whether this was, indeed, a failure of our parliament. And if so, what was the nature of that failure.

    It is simply not enough to declare a decision wrong just because you disagree with it.

  29. Eloquently and persuasively put, Derek, positively Swiftian. Not that I should have thought many would need persuading. Put simply, after I die my body is a husk, of no use to me – to state the bleeding obvious, I’ll be dead. If it , or parts of it, can be used to save another life/ improve someone else’s life quality, what’s not to like ? Be nice to be thought of as useful for once ! To agree to this is not even particularly selfless – nobody is being asked to make a sacrifice, futile or otherwise. The farrago of childish paranoid nonsense about the state taking liberties with dead bodies, taking bits out of people before they’re dead, etc. etc., is just that. People’s lives are at stake here every week, and pusillanimous delaying tactics are frankly inexcusable. After all, people could, and presumably would, opt out if they felt strongly about it for religious or any other reasons.

    To echo an earlier comment, not Holyrood’s finest hour. Well done, Wales, for taking a lead and showing how it should be done.

    • They can only harvest organs from a body where the heart is still beating. You cannot take an organ from a corpse and transplant it into a living patient. So you wouldn’t actually be dead, you’d be dying, and meanwhile your heart rate and blood pressure would shoot up as they harvested your organs. Your caused of death, physiologically, would be through them removing your organs. If that doesn’t creep you out or scare you, fair enough.

  30. I like many here are assuming that this was a free vote, which is exactly how it should be concerning an issue of such importance. Surely the most democratic of our parliamentary voting procedures. Voting tribaly, when clearly over 50% of those who voted had concerns, would clearly be wrong.
    This kind of legislation has to be as near right as possible, before, not after it is passed.
    The divide in this matter is clearly represented in this thread, our parliament correctly mirrors that divide. I have no doubt public opinion will change, and that should be the precursor for passing this legislation.

  31. presumed consent is my biggest worry, it does not make any sense in other parts of the state legislative sphere. can you imagine it it burglary, policing, tax payments or worst of all sexual crimes?

    now if presumed consent came with a consideration for the donor, let say maybe a free basic funeral then it might be of use (and doubtless the rate of active opt in would increase).

    but as it stands the state is claiming direct ownership of you body and its reusable parts, thats simple not right.

  32. oh dear quite a few hyperventilating on this issue , free choice in my opinion should take precedence , the mere fact that so many Msps were not convinced of the content of the bill as presented should give cause for concern as to the whole issue of having to actively opt-out as opposed to opt-in by filling out a donor card these being widely available to everyone , and represents the the prospective donors free choice at that time , as opposed to the state having first dibs on your body , quite a few have eluded to the fact the heart must be beating at the time of removal of organs this i really don’t know if it’s true , maybe some Msps were of the same view i really don’t know their thoughts on the issue and regarding some comments neither do many people posting on this issue

  33. My luck, I’ll be on life support, surrounding by my grieving family, [well maybe] then suddenly they’ll be a demand for a particular part of my anatomy, an emergency they say, as they push past my loved ones, Having no say and with this legislation passed for the state to help themselves to whatever, they’ll yank it out and pass it on to the most needy, no time for goodbyes, no time to come to terms with the inevitable, straight in and straight out, thank you very much…..Another 24 hours and I’d have been out of my Lazarus syndrome state?…Oops!!

    Perhaps I’m just old fashioned, but my mother always insisted that I ask for something nicely and never ever take anything without permission.

    • Is it too much to hope for that people would actually take the trouble to discover what an opt-out system entails before commenting? What is the point of comments based on some demented fantasy notion of what it means? It may be cathartic for the bladders indulging their need to vent some of their excess righteous indignation. But it’s extremely tedious for those of us who consider this a topic worthy of rational debate.

      Here’s the one simple thing you need to know in order to see the unalloyed idiocy of all this crap about the state stealing your organs while you’re still alive. If you feel so strongly abut organ-donation as to be susceptible to fantastical nightmares about it, then you can simply sign a form or click a button on a website and that’s you opted out. Your organs will rot with the rest of you. You can take from that whatever satisfaction a cadaver may be capable of.

      • well Dr Bell has spoken the rest of you just shut up , free will once relinquished will never be returned end of .

        • I trust you feel better for that petulant little outburst. I know it will have amused those who find humour in infantile antics. The only thing missing is capitalisation of the closing inanity… END OF!

  34. so sorry i didn’t know that Mr bell was the arbiter of all things, i should bow to his doubtless wisdom on the matter.
    or not,
    it has never in the history of all time been the case that anyone has lost records of any kind ever, if lets say in the current system it can not be determined the status of the soon to be dead body – then presumed non-consent is taken and there is a small loss to the greater good, but with presumed consent.. they take the parts they need then .. find the records.. oppsie, oh dear, never mind better next time.
    think baby ashes scandal, think the alder hay hospital, or even just think. the state and its systems are far from infallible.
    the reason that there is a slow up take of opt in donors is apparently apathy, and the idea of presumed consent is to use that apathy to the benefit of the state, somewhat sinister is it not.
    this idea was raised a good few years ago and there has not been an overt increase in trying to get folks to opt in, just an upping in the rhetoric.
    capitalisation, spacing and spelling left intentionally. to give the pedantic grammarians some ammo to use in lieu of an argument.

  35. I would like to think the result was because of genuine concerns in an unwhipped vote – which I think was the right thing to do. I can understand the ethical concern that presumed consent doesn’t really mean ‘real’ consent just because there is no objection.
    But it was concerning to read the flak the SNP got because some MSP suggested it was made political. Really hope that wasn’t what swung it.

    Reading more about it, it seems like the actual increase in donors is pretty small. Organs can only be donated in very specific circumstances as they degrade so quickly. Donors basically have die in intensive care when attached to a ventilator, and the family still needs to give approval.

    From the BBC – “Evidence from other countries with an opt-out system indicates that the rise in organ donors is small with about 15 additional donors provided each year and approximately 45 extra organs.”

    Of course that isn’t any comfort if you are one of the few people who could possibly benefit.

  36. wow, just wow. seems that a comment was lost in moderation,

    these things happen i guess, just like official forms might get lost.

    i do so wonder how it can be proved that you signed an opt out form, there is no legal requirement to carry ID in this great cuntry of ours. all you have to do is be able to prove who you are. hard to do if your unconscious and on your last legs.

    with an opt in system. no proof means no donation.

    with an opt out system, no proof means presumed consent.

    but of course mr bell should have the final say as the use of his great writing skills adds so much to the debate.

    • While passable writing skills help, such as standard use of capitalisation, what really adds to debate is thoughtful comment. Prejudiced whining actually sucks the sense out of a discussion.

      Evidently it is going to come as a revelation to you that people have medical records. And you best prepare yourself for another shock because we now have these marvellous tools call computers which allow us to store vast amounts of information, such as detailed medical data, and, more importantly, to access that information in an instant.

      In your own case, for example, those records might included some explanation of why you are incapable of figuring out that, if opt-in data can be part of our medical records, then there is no rational reason to suppose that opt-out information could not be recorded in precisely the same way.

      Woe is me! I hear you cry. What if all the computers in the world suddenly stopped functioning? Because, when you’re looking for dumb excuses to whine, that’s the sort of “thought” that tends to pop into your head – there to lodge, unexamined and unquestioned for ever more. It must be an insurmountable problem because you need an insurmountable problem and since it suits your needs there’s no point in asking if it really is insurmountable. You might get an answer that is inconvenient.

      An answer such as “cards”! If someone feels strongly about wanting the organs of their dead body to rot rather than help another human being, then why would they not carry a card saying so? After all, millions of people manage to carry cards saying, effectively, I am a decent person with a moral conscience! Please harvest my organs after death for the benefit of some unfortunate individual – even if they are the sort of poor benighted lackwit who cannot grasp the concept of computerised medical records or get their head around the idea of carrying a little bit of plastic bearing information that they consider it vital everyone should know.

  37. again wow, you argument mr bell must be so strong that you lower yourself to the person attack, the appeal to authority and the denigration of writing skill, i am so proud of your methods i shall perhaps adopt them myself. nah that would be pathetic and puerile and we have had enough of that already.

    you actually raise some valid points in amongst your distracting attacks, yes we have some marvellous systems, but government systems are far from infallible, especially in the heat of the moment. there is a long list of failures , think alder hay, think the baby ashes scandal, even shipman should have been caught. had only the systems worked like what the idealist thought they might.

    good intentions often fall foul of the law of unintended consequences, look at the farce that free hospital parking turned out to be.

  38. apparently the low uptake rate of ‘opt in’ is put down to apathy, some 60% or so say they are happy to ‘opt in’ but just havent got round to it and the figure is around 30% or so that do.

    it seems the idea around ‘opt out’ is to use that apathy to better effect. and thats a little bit chilling in itself.

    i have no problem with organ donation, but i have a huge problem with presuming consent. in any field. it is a dangerous president to set.

    its would appear that part of your argument (mr bell) is that we should all pull for the greater good of humanity, a laudable idea perhaps. would you mind telling the governments of the world that then others might get on board.

    mistakes never ever happen , especially at hospitals.

  40. An observation if I Am allowed by the resident moderateor ,Day Seven of this topic in my opinion this dying thread seems to mirror the vote and why it failed , people are not convinced this change should be made , blame the SNP Government if you must , but take some time to take into account the various comments here then I hope you realise the predicament they were in , and not just parrot the bloody SNP useless comments here , OK while not perfect it’s the best option we have at this time , and I trust them to try and make honest decisions to the benefit of us all.

  41. i am somewhat saddened that mr bell has retreated from this debate. i was so looking forward to his lowering of the standard of this most excellent blog. and his confirmation that journalists are so so much ‘one trick ponies’ . they only have words, and feel they are master of them. we must remember that words are only noises written down , shapes and marks on a screen (or paper or papyrus or tablets or even stone(not that written in stone implies anything more than time taken to do so)).

    please return mr bell

    or does it hurt to much to have to account to us pleb’s?

    accountability, now there is a trick that scares the journalist, the right to reply, the held to account, the answering the question.

    you can do it peter i know you can. or is it step to far, i hope you can, i look forward to it.

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