This research essay provides insight into an argumentative factor of if a mandatory opt-in and opt-out system would be beneficial when it comes to human organ donation. Through in-depth research and academic source’s, it is clear that there are multiple aspects to consider when it comes to the organ donation system. These aspects will be discussed throughout this research paper which, include the increase in demand for organs, the next of kin and families role in the process of consent, viable organs going to waste due an unregistered donor, the possibility of taking in to consideration the positive factors of “assumed consent” and the major elements that are affecting multiple hospital’s . Overall the process, restrictions and the very high need of organ donation will be discussed through the duration of this paper.
Through the current organ donation system individuals have the ability to gift their organs away after death to multiple individuals on the transplant list who are in need of them. This is a highly effective way to help a large amount of people whom have been waiting for an organ due to certain circumstances. However, this system is not being used to its full potential because of the lack of people who actually take the time to consider organ donation and sign a document stating whether or not they would or would not like to donate their organs after death. Therefore, multiple organs go to waste once an individual dies as a result of the hospital and family being unaware of the potential donors wishes for their organs and the organs becoming unviable over time. My research essay will argue how it is argumentative whether or not there should be a mandatory opt-in or opt-out system when it comes to organ donation as, there is a major organ shortage, unexpected deaths alone account for many healthy organs going to waste and family and next of kens should not have to make such an informed critical decision so quickly and many individuals may not sign the donation form for many reasons but, wouldn’t mind being an organ donor.
Unexpected Deaths of Non-Organ Donors
There is an increasing amount of unexpected deaths of people whom are not signed up to state whether of not they would prefer to donate their organs after death. These deaths could have saved countless amounts of people on the transplant list. Individuals die every day without being a registered organ donor and leave the hard decision of whether or not their organs should or should not be donated up to their families or relatives. Ultimately, leaving the decision up to family members during the crucial time of grief tends to work against organ donation as the family feels it is best to keep the body intact. This ends up leaving several viable organs going to waste. According to Clara a respondent (as cited in Nizza, Britton and Smith 2014), who was interviewed feels it is a choice to leave the decision of organ donation up to a family member. Clara states, “One of the reasons why perhaps I’ve been blasé about it, perhaps assuming, you know, if something like that did happen, my next of kin could […] give their consent or something.” (p. 14). This goes to show that an individual might expect their family to consent to go forth with organ donation, but the family decides against it hoping that they did the right thing.
Reasons to being Unregistered
There are multiple reasons as to why someone may not sign up to be an organ donor which can override the overall importance of making the decision of whether or not you decide to or not to donate your organs after death. Reasons may include having limited knowledge on the topic, personal emotions towards cadaver manipulation and prior experiences with organ donation. As well, mistrust towards particular hospitals, doctors or the health care system as a whole. (Shacham, Loux, Barnidge, Lew and Pappaterra, 2018). Some of the reasons listed like lack of knowledge can easily be fixed however, the more complex reasons such as mistrust in the system are much harder to address and change. Other factors that are seen as contributors to this issue are certain races and ethnicity’s such as Hispanic, Latinos and African Americans having a decreasing count of organ donation registration appose to Caucasians. (Shacham, Loux, Barnidge, Lew and Pappaterra, 2018). This is due to issues such as living in low income areas and not having the proper resources to seek information. According to Shacham, Loux, Barnidge, Lew and Pappaterra (2018). An explanation to this is “Caucasians have […] more knowledge about and positive attitude toward organ donation, whereas African Americans have documented a higher mistrust of the healthcare system and poor interactions within that system, as well […] concern about maintaining the body intact as part of beliefs around afterlife” (p.2). In time the hope is for individuals of all races to become more educated and slowly gain the trust of the health care system back.
Deaths due to no Donations
We all know that people die every day and that it is the sad reality of life however, some of those deaths could have possibly been prevented if individuals who had viable organs after death would have donated them. In some cases, prior to one’s death they choose not to donate their organs due to the fact they feel their death is hastened and dignity is being lost due to pressures from physicians. (Wojciech, 2009). This is a conflict of interest that affects the individual(s) counting on the donation after one has passed away. As stated by Wojciech, (2009) dignity is a huge component that is weighed in with any decisions made “respect for the donors’ dignity at the end-of-life should always prevail over the interest of society to increase the number of organ transplantation” (Wojciech, 2009). As I agree with this statement, I believe that physicians should be informed about this issue and to the best of their ability try and avoid any form of conflict that would jeopardize any future candidates whom want to donate their organs.
Family and Conflicts
Guilt can be an element in cases where a family or next of kin has to think deeply about what their family member or friend wanted to do with their organs once they are dead. Most people have never discussed their wishes to anyone making it very difficult on the family or next of kin to choose what feels right to them. Multiple states currently permit people to choose if they want their organs to be donated after their death however, a family member has the ability to overrule the decedents wishes and ultimately go against their choice. (Havekost 2019). This is extremely rare in most cases of organ donation, however, can be a conflict of interest within families of strong religious beliefs. On the other according to Havekost (2019), “Many eligible decedents never express their desire to become or not to become organ donors, and family members refuse to consent to donate or cannot be contacted in time”. (p.1). In situations like this it is very hard to change the minds of the family members within a certain time that the organs are still viable for the next individual waiting on the transplant list.
Hospital Crisis Regarding Organ Donation
The demand for organ donation is at its highest and with very low amounts of individuals actually being registered as a donor and receiving an organ is slim, so the demand for alternative medicine such as dialysis is also at a very high demand as it is helping to at least ease people’s problems and improve their quality of life a bit while waiting for an organ. This demand furthermore leads to the need for more health care professionals, scheduling problems and hospital working at full capacity and even extending themselves too far. According to Abouna (2007) “The organ shortage crisis has deprived thousands of patients of a new and better quality of life and has caused a substantial increase in the cost of alternative medical care” (p.1). This is impacting the health care system as a whole as the resources are being consumed in larger amounts and in a shorter period of time. If there were more programs that offered education based on organ donation then there would be a hope that organ donation would increase and the demand for alternative medicine would no longer be there. (Abouna, 2007). This is a big change that will take time and resources however will ultimately benefit a large amount of people from all forms of areas.
In conclusion the demand for organ donation is higher now than it has ever been and if there is any possible way for there to be an increase in the amount of living and dead donors on the registry then every possible action needs to be taken for it to happen. Furthermore, individuals need to make sure they start to talk to their families and next of kin in order to ensure their wishes of being a donor are able to be kept. The concept of “assumed consent” is a possibility and a positive one at that. If unexpected deaths occur and the person has not opted-out of donating their organs there is a chance they would have wanted to donate and even if one person could be designated as having “assumed consent” the organs from their one body could help to save many people’s lives. Organ donation is in the highest demand it has ever been and many people are losing their live to people not donating for the simplest of reasons including not being educated enough to know how important it is to donate their organs. The fact is the organ donation registry being able to grow and expand would lead to an enormous amount of lives being saved and many mores being forever changed by individuals simply being educated, then registering themselves as a donor and most importantly explaining their wishes to their medical proxy. So that their huge decision to help move the organ donation registry further along does not get dragged farther back because of emotions and grief resulting from a loved one’s unwillingness to say goodbye.
- Havekost, M. (2019) The Waiting Game: How States Can Solve the Organ-Donation Crisis. Vanderbilit Law Review (Vol, 72, issue 2.) Retrieved from https://go-gale-com.library.sheridanc.on.ca/ps/i.do?p=AONE&u=ko_acd_shc&id=GALE%7CA585355545&v=2.1&it=r&sid=summon
- Wojciech, B. (2009) Hastening Death: Dying, Dignity and the Organ Shortage Gap. American Journal of Law and Medicine; Boston. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.library.sheridanc.on.ca/docview/749650033/abstract/B6453ED75D354DC2PQ/1?accountid=3455
- Shacham, E. (2018) Determinants of Organ Donation Registration. Wiley Connections. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary-wiley-com.library.sheridanc.on.ca/doi/full/10.1111/ajt.15025
- Nizza, I; Britton, P; Smith J. (2014) You have to die first’: Exploring the thoughts and feelings on organ donation of British women who have not signed up to be donors. Sage Journals. Retrieved from https://journals-sagepub-com.library.sheridanc.on.ca/doi/full/10.1177/1359105314532974?utm_source=summon&utm_medium=discovery-provider&
- Abounca, G.M. Organ Shortage Crisis: Problems and Possible Solutions. Science Direct. Retrieved from https://www-sciencedirect-com.library.sheridanc.on.ca/science/article/pii/S0041134507014595