After doing a lot of campaigning for the opt-out system to be introduced at the beginning of the year, my first reaction when I saw the headlines in today's papers declaring that the Opt Out system was not going to go ahead just yet, was of disappointment and also sadness to those who are still waiting for an organ.
It is a great shame that the UK cannot straight away become an opt-out country especially since research showed that a high percentage of the population support the campaign. One of the things that makes me most sad is the fact the at the moment there is physically not enough theaters or surgeons to take on the sudden increase in transplants that would occur if opt-out went ahead. To put it simply the hospitals are just not ready for opt-out yet. As the head of the Kidney Federation said on the radio today; sadly a donor card carrier may pass away in a hospital with no transplant facilities or be too far away from a hospital with the right facilities, not allowing him to be a donor. Obviously this problem will have to be combated before the government can reconsider opt-out.
There are also still so many misconceptions that are floating around when it comes to organ donation and it never fails to shock me when I hear them. There is a distinct lack of education about organ donation in this country - a lot of people just don't seem to understand what they are even signing up for let alone what would actually happen after they died. As I have always maintained it is also a massive taboo subject - nobody wants to think about or talk about death - which is why organ donation should be promoted in a positive light showing it as an amazing footprint to leave after you die. Charities such as Live Life Then Give Life are doing just that.
Before he died aged 25 earlier this year, Adrian Sudbury, a true hero, started a campaign for schools to educate all 17-18 year olds about organ donation and also bone marrow donation. Just before he died, this campaign was approved and letters went out to every school this year with information packs enclosed. Campaigns like this - especially to young people - will definitely increase the numbers on the organ donor list as the teens will surely bring this topic up to other friends and their family provoking them to think about it. After all, word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of advertising.
Whenever I see organ donation brought up in the press - even if it is negative - I always see it as a good thing as it gets people talking and thinking and hopefully signing up.