Magazine article The Spectator

Have a Heart

Magazine article The Spectator

Have a Heart

Article excerpt

Sir: I was longing to disagree with Rod Liddle that organ donation should continue to depend upon a positive act to opt into the programme ('Hands off my organs', 19 January).

However, Mr Brown's plans include New Labour's usual targets and tick-boxes. This means that hospitals would be allocated funding according to the number of organs that they harvest, making life-and-death decisions the property of accountants and commissioners. It would be a matter of time, for example, before families of 'vegetative' patients were reminded of their duty and encouraged to let their loved ones' organs be used to save others, despite the fact that the science of awakening such patients is still in its infancy and already producing unexpected successes.

Further afield, last August the US saw its first court case where a doctor was accused of hastening the death of a disabled person in order to obtain the kidneys for another patient.

In many hospitals in Canada, organs are harvested not after brain death but after loss of cardiac function, which may be treatable; and in 2006, the BBC claimed to have obtained proof that newborn babies were being killed for their stem cells in hospitals in the Ukraine. …

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