Saturday, August 28, 2010

Whether to opt into or out of Human Organ Donating?

The title to this blog post was inspired by the good news just received from my niece in Finland that her husband has successfully undergone a new kidney transplant in an hospital there. Apparently the Finnish system provides for all one's body parts to be available for transplant after death unless you have specifically opted out of giving. Niece Allie compares that  most favourably with the UK system where one has specifically to bequeath one's body for medical scientific use  upon death. Without such express permission  the human body is not legally available for use even to aid living humans.

Obviously the success of her husband's transplant operation is a cause for huge celebration by all family and friends. However the general  principle is unaffected by any specific rejoicing so one of my comments to her was:

I can see the good it does and your logic but the less compulsion about doing good the better in my view. It's more dignified for human beings to have the right to exercise their free will even illogically than to deprive them of that ability. Such deprivation aguably makes us a little more like animals which lack free will. In other words volunteering to give seems better to me than in effect being compelled to
Curious too that one the one hand  the UK laws seem to respect the integrity of the deceased human body in this way ie by permitting its use for body parts only with consent of its owner, despite the temptation to use it as a resource after death yet  on the other hand appear to be encouraging the use of human tissue from abortions and test tubes irrespective of integrity, as  a mere  resource, even to the extent, if  recent newspaper reports are to be believed, of mixing in some animal  DNA with human cell tissue.

On occasion when out and about with dad (now age 90)  on seeing a large looking queue of people one or other of us joke about their queung for 'Soylent Green', a substance  which featured in an SF novel set in the year 2022. As I recollect, people aged from c. 60 onwards were in the book, were required to queue to be taken on a cruise  to some retirement paradise, one of the advantages of which was  said to be to leave sufficient space in the cities  for the younger members of the population.

In fact it transpired that the over 60s were not being  sent on some luxury cruise at all but were unbeknown to them or society at large, queuing to be  melted down into a fantastically nutritious  protein soup called Soylent Green, which was used to feed the  rest of the world's burgeoning population. The truth had to be hidden of course so the whole process depended on people's trust which the authorities were competely betraying.

It appears to me that each small  step of  detraction from respecting human dignity and the integrity of the whole person from inception to grave, might  appear positive when viewed   in isolation especially when the purpose of the step  is obviouly good, like   saving  a specific person or vastly enhancing the quality of life but when looked at as a whole, the steps  are  forming a staircase leading  to a chimera society ie one in which the real human spirit is reduced to being part of something else.

We are the sum of our parts like human society is the sum of mankind. 

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