Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Organ Donation in Wales

A touching story today in Scotland about a young boy's organs being donated after his death in a road accident. This story reminded me of recent debates around 'presumed consent' in Wales.

Judging by BBC reports, I'm not clear what's actually being proposed. Yesterday I read this piece, in which they report:
The Welsh government has told the BBC Wales Politics Show that it is planning a system of "soft" presumed consent where family members would still be consulted after a person's death.

But 'consultation' does not amount to a veto. In fact, from today's news it seems that the family will not have any right to veto donation, i.e. the proposal is actually 'hard' presumed consent:
Families would have no legal right to stop dead relatives' organs being used for transplant if the person has not opted out in advance, under a proposed Welsh law.

This is an issue I've written on before. See my previous article in the Journal of Medical Ethics and a forthcoming piece here.

I think it's important that the public debate move on from talking about 'presumed consent', which generates unnecessary and unhelpful controversy. An opt-out scheme can be justified on various other grounds, such as 'normative consent, 'tacit consent', or even by the claim that consent is not necessary at all. We'd be better able to debate the merits of the proposal if we weren't hung up on arguments about presumptions.

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