Organ donation ‘opt out’ plan is not straightforward

Organ donation ‘opt out’ plan is not straightforward
Evening Echo News 26th of April 2016Isabel Terry from Bishopstown who is on a waiting list for a heart and double lung transplant. Isabel has set up her own Facebook page #getOrganised, take that selfie with your donor card today. Picture Dan Linehan

A Cork woman in need of a double-lung and heart transplant says introducing a new organ-donation system is not as straightforward as has been suggested.

Health Minister Simon Harris recently announced he is planning to introduce a system of “opt-out” organ donation by next year.

The system would make everyone automatically an organ donor in the event of accidental death unless they have specifically opted out.

However, campaigner Isabel Terry, Bishopstown, says she is unsure about the proposal.

“If I had the transplant tomorrow, it’s a gift of life. I want my organs to come from someone who wants to give them. It’s not as simple as opt-out,” Ms Terry says.

“Don’t get me wrong, I would take it but it is a gift of life. Hopefully, it would get more people transplants but it's not as black and white as that,” she added.

Ms Terry requires oxygen 24 hours a day as a result of a condition referred to as pulmonary atresia.

She has spent almost 14 years on a transplant waiting list, for a rare double-lung and heart transplant surgery.

“The point everyone seems to be missing is that you have to have that conversation with your next of kin. It's a good idea but personally, I think I would want someone who wanted to give their organs, someone who sat down with their next of kin. If you are in hospital with your next of kin and doctors are rushing frantically trying to save their life, unfortunately, if they were to die, it could be very impersonal. I’m not sure how it would work, would there be time to think?” 

Ms Terry runs a Facebook page called Life on the List, where she writes about her experiences waiting for a transplant.

She also encourages readers to post selfies with their organ donor cards, to promote awareness and prompt a conversation between family members.

It is crucial to let your family or next of kin know if you wish to be an organ donor, so they are aware of your last wishes in the event of a tragedy, she added. 

“My personal opinion is people need to have the conversation. I think most people would say yes anyway,” Ms Terry added.

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