The Debate: Taking Tissue: Should Doctors Always Ask? - NO Enormous Burden on Relative at Difficult Time
Byline: Dr Peter A.Rowe, chairman of British Transplant Society Ethics Committee
ONE of the main provisions of the new legislation is to change the existing law to require explicit consent for organ or tissue donation.
The Bill provides for the same processes to apply to both organ and tissue donation for transplantation and organ or tissue retention for diagnosis of disease. The Society believes that to protect patients the processes of donation and retention need very different regulation.
The motives,purpose, circumstances and outcomes of organ or tissue donation are quite distinct from those of organ or tissue retention.
For organ donation and retention the Bill provides that appropriate consent from the patient or a defined qualifying relative is required for lawful organ removal and specifies heavy penalties for failure to comply with the law.
This means that where a relative cannot be contacted and consent by the patient cannot be established organ removal will be forbidden.
This is quite different from the existing situation where the law allows organ donation where it is believed that there would be no objection by ``such reasonable enquiry as may be practical'' and will lose some organs that might previously have been donated.
If the potential donor has not given an indication of his or her wishes during life then the qualifying relative has the responsibility of deciding.
This places an enormous burden on them at a difficult time. …