Let's opt out rather than in

PUBLISHED: 16:57 10 August 2007 | UPDATED: 22:58 28 May 2010

It has always seemed to me that many more people would stand a better chance of avoiding death, or at least achieving a better quality of life, if we changed just one of the rather negative rules we live by. And Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer o

It has always seemed to me that many more people would stand a better chance of avoiding death, or at least achieving a better quality of life, if we changed just one of the rather negative rules we live by.

And Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer of Health, is of the same mind, because he is calling for a change in direction - from opt in to opt out.

I refer, of course to what happens to our bits and pieces after we die.

If we went down the opt-out route, doing the decent thing, by supporting our fellow men and women, would be the norm rather than the haven of the few who take the trouble to carry a donor card or join the donor register.

Which is why I support the Chief Medical Officer, even though I accept there are those whose religion would force them into the opt-in lobby.

However, I cannot accept the often-quoted view that the opt-out policy, whereby most of us would be allowing medical science to use our organs to save the lives of others, is either paternalistic or authoritarian because it turns us into a health service resource after death.

Within a few days of Sir Liam's plea for change, some 20,000 more people registered as organ donors, which, although encouraging, is pretty insignificant.

Perhaps we should take note of the case of a young woman who died in a motorway accident in Kent and whose organs were used to save five lives. A two-week-old boy received heart valves, two men received kidneys and another man benefited from her liver.

Can there be a better example of the value of organ donorship.

Let's all support the opt-out lobby.

While I support the Chief Medical Officer's stance over organ donations, I was amazed, and angered, to learn of his suggested way of fighting superbugs in our hospitals.

Patients should be issued with a supply of alcohol-based hand gel and challenge doctors and nurses to use it when they arrive at the bedside for examinations, he says.

What next? Self diagnosis? Patients cleaning instruments in the operating theatre?

If hospital staff need to be told by patients of the need for cleanliness in the battle against MRSA and other hospital-acquired infections then those staff are clearly in the wrong job and should be removed immediately.

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