Organ Donation Awareness: Thought For The Day #3

To Opt In or To Opt Out…That is the question…

Let me first explain a little bit about what I mean. There are two possible systems that the politicians are trying to decide between, for how people are put onto the Organ Donor Register. The first – the one we currently use – is the opt in. This means that each person decides whether they want to be an organ donor, and then they go and sign the register after deciding. The Families will always make the final decision and can overturn your wishes if they want to – but there is evidence for the nurses to show them that you did want to donate.

The second system – which some people think we should switch to – is the Opt Out. This means that everyone is automatically on the Organ Donor Register unless they consciously decide to Opt out. It is actually called the ‘Soft Opt Out’ system, because the families will still make the final decision about donating their loved one’s organs. Everyone still has a choice of whether they want to be on the register or not, and each family still hold the final say.

So, why does it matter? Well,because people are inherently lazy. Or forgetful. Or uncomfortable. Whatever the reason, it means that signing onto the Organ Donor Register is something people often want to do but never actually do it! By already being on the Register, it takes the pressure off them to sign on, and makes the job easier. However, it also means there is no reason for them to bring up the topic with their family and friends.

But will this actually translate into more organs being transplanted? There is a lot of debate around that. We can all have our own opinions about the matter, but is the system really what matters?

In my opinion, not really. I feel that we need to focus so much more on education. In our Primary schools, Secondary, and even universities. We need to bring the conversation to the generation who are going to be the change makers. The more we teach the young generation about organ donation, the more normal it will become. The more normal it is; the more people talk about it. The more people talk about it; the more people agree to donate. Thus leading to more transplants.

If we can manage to get organ donation onto the school curriculum, then children and young people’s opinions around it are shaped by hard facts – not myths or stories. They can form their own opinion, unaffected by society’s discomfort around this topic.

I passionately believe that the young generation are the way forward. Encourage, educate and communicate with them. Try to be open if they want to talk with you about an uncomfortable issue, often they are the most important to discuss. And please, have a conversation with them about organ donation, in whatever way they will understand. Help them to know that it isn’t something to fear or hide away from. Open conversations about Organ Donation – that’s what we need!

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