Thursday, June 12, 2008

The stuff of nightmares: 'dead' patient wakes up as surgeons about to take organs!

'Dead' patient comes around as organs are about to be removed France may have to reconsider its medical definition of death after a heart-attack victim came alive in the operating theatre as doctors were about to remove his organs for transplant. The patient, whose identity has not been revealed, recovered after a long period in intensive care and is now able to walk and talk. (link via independent.co.uk) Yikes! This will revive (sorry, bad pun) the debate about organ donation, especially the proposed "presumed consent" scheme in the UK. Currently, the UK operates an opt-in system for organ donation where people have to make their wishes known by registering their details on the NHS Organ Donation Register, carrying a donor card or telling their family. The opt-out system would mean health professionals would be able to assume everyone had consented to donating their organs (unless they had specifically registered that they did not want to become an organ donor). I know how desperate the need is for organs for transplant but personally I feel very uncomfortable with the idea of presumed consent. This latest story from France just underlines the fear that a lot of people must have, like I do, about the circumstances that might lead to just such a nightmare situation. I think the UK should stay with the current system where people have to choose to opt-in for organ donation. What do you think?

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