I just recently discovered that in Wales, as from today, people who die will be deemed to have consented to becoming organ donors, unless they have opted out of the scheme. I'm not quite sure of all the modalities of it but (as I understand it), anyone over the age of 18 and who has lived in Wales for at least 12 months will be deemed to have given their prior consent to organ donation unless they have specifically opted out. From what I understand, in the event of someone's death, if there is no "opt out" or if no close relative can be found to "opt out" on the deceased person's behalf, then organs can be taken and used for transplant purposes. While the scheme currently only applies in Wales, any organs harvested can be made available to suitable recipients anywhere in the UK.
And you know what, I think this is a wonderful initiative. Of course people have every right to opt out for religious or whatever other reasons they may have, and I respect that, but for me personally making the assumption that organs can be taken in the absence of information to the contrary is a wonderful step forward to saving lives. I know if my sons or someone else I loved were in danger of dying for lack of a donor kidney I would be so grateful to any grieving family who took the courageous and selfless decision to donate their loved one's organs, particularly at such a difficult time.
Many years ago I signed an organ donor's card and carried it in my purse. That must have been over 30 years ago I guess so I am pretty sure that card is now shredded beyond repair somewhere. Which makes me think I must get hold of another one and do the necessary, or at the very least make my wishes known to my family. Nobody likes thinking of this stuff of course and I'm sure many of us think that as soon as we "sign up", we will then be killed and used as a donor. Just like making a will - "well if I make a will I'm sure I'm going to snuff it the week after". But I for one want to be cremated when I die and want my ashes scattered in the mountains, as I don't want a place where my family need to go to feel sad. For me the dearly departed are all around us so I don't need to be buried anywhere in order for my family to show respect.
Sadly in the last few days rugby great Jonah Lomu died suddenly of complications linked to kidney disease. He was only 40 and left behind two very young sons who now have to grow up without their dad. Jonah did, I believe, get a kidney transplant but it failed and he died as a result of his illness. I don't know if another transplant would have been possible for him or even if it would have done any good, but I personally believe that that option should be out there. To be burying viable organs when our loved ones are dying for want of a transplant is somehow just wrong to me. Of course I totally respect people's wishes not to be involved with organ donation, but in cases where people don't really have strong views one way or another, I for one praise the Welsh initiative and hope it will prove such a success that it can be rolled out UK-wide, thereby saving lives that otherwise would be lost.
RIP Jonah Lomu!