Last year, 3100 transplants were done in the UK. That seems a lot, until you read on to discover that 10 000 were waiting to get that call, giving it a 1 in 3 chance to have a transplant if you were waiting for one last year. Sadly, 400 people died as a result of being one of the 2 who were never called.
Gordon Brown was hoping to introduce a change of law so that, rather than being registered as an organ donor, individuals could register their preference not to be a donor. Anyone not doing so would carry 'presumed consent' although no organs could be donated against the wishes of the family. This would have led to more organs being available for transplant. I reflected on my feelings about this some time ago and wrote the following:
WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO SAY YES
Within the next few weeks, a Government task force, created to assess the possible impact of a change in the legislation surrounding organ donation will announce their recommendations. Throughout the year they have been debating the move from the current ‘opt in’ system of registering as a potential organ donor or carrying a donor card, to ‘opting out’ or ‘presumed consent’ whereby everyone would be seen as a potential donor unless they register or carry a card to express their desire not to. The debate was fuelled by statistics such as the 1000 or more people who die each year while waiting for a suitable organ to be found.
Joining the transplant list offers you a nothing more than a hope that you may, one day, get that call to say your life saving operation will be going ahead. As time goes by, you become sicker, the transplant becomes all the more urgent and the uncertainty becomes all the harder to bear. At least, that is my experience of being Mum to a four year old child currently waiting for a transplant he very desperately needs. We joined the list a few months ago but have known for three years that it would become necessary sooner or later.
Before we joined the list I was an avid supporter of the move to an opt-out system of organ donation. Amongst all the complicated and emotional thoughts and feelings I have had spinning in my head since we joined the list, I have realised my ideas about the opt-in or opt-out debate have changed. It is half-term this week and the Christmas holidays are not too far away. More transplants happen in holiday time. I have to reassure myself with such facts but I struggle with doing so as I am only too aware of what the thing I hope for every day means for another family. Last week, I shared how upset this makes me and was told to remember that I am not waiting for someone to die. I am waiting for someone to say yes. I am waiting for someone to give my son the best gift he will ever receive. A compulsory donation may come quicker but we would be praying and waiting for something very different than for someone to say yes to making that gift.