A private member's bill introduced in the Ontario provincial legislature on Thursday by New Democrat MPP Peter Kormos, says that Ontario hospitals should be able to freely harvest organs unless a dying patient objects beforehand. Kormos says the aim of his bill is to reduce the number of people who die awaiting transplants.
The policy advocated in the above bill is known as Presumed Consent. Presumed Consent as public policy means that a clinically and legally indicated candidate for cadaveric organ and tissue recovery is presumed to have consented to organ and tissue recovery if he or she had not registered a refusal. Also, there is no allowance for the donor's family to be involved in the donation process.
What prompted me to write this piece was several e-mail's I received about an interview by radio personality Andy Barrie with the CEO of Trillium Gift of Life Network, Dr. Frank Markel. I did not hear the interview but was given to understand that Mr. Barrie was an advocate for the private member's bill and opposed to existing Ontario government policy.
I personally do not advocate Presumed Consent but instead like the new strategy of Trillium Gift of Life Network (TGLN) in effect in Ontario, Canada since January of this year (RNR). RNR helps identify potential donors and ensures patients/families are given the opportunity to make an informed decision about donation, thus improving current donation rates and saving more lives.
Routine Notification and Request (RNR) is designed to maximize organ and tissue donation in Ontario. It is a provision of the TGLN Act passed in 2000, with the implementation of the RNR program in January 2006.
Under RNR guidelines, designated facilities report to TGLN when a patient has died or death is expected by reason of disease or illness. Once eligibility has been determined, the hospital then approaches the patient or the patients' family to discuss donation options.
Some countries have increased organ and tissue donation rates through a "presumed consent" policy, such as Belgium, France, Austria, Finland, Denmark and Singapore but their policies approximate "routine salvaging of organs".
Our society assumes that the individual, not the state, should control his or her physical disposition. Our society respects this principle by asking for the consent of the donor before organs are recovered.
This is my opinion. You can find many other opinions elsewhere and the best discussion I've read on this is in "A Report of the Presumed Consent Subcommittee, United Network for Organ Sharing Ethics Committee."
Please go the following link for this in depth analysis: Evaluation of the Ethics of Presumed Consent
Do you have an opinion on this? Leave a comment below.