University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Why Organ Donation Should Be Mandatory
In the United States today, people lose their lives to many different causes. Though this is tragic, there are also a large group of people who could benefit from these deaths; and those people are people in need of an organ transplant. Although a sudden or tragic death can be heart breaking to a family, they could feel some relief by using their loved ones’ organs to save the lives of many others. This act of kindness, though, can only be done with consent of both the victim and the family; making the donation of organs happen much less than is needed. The need for organs is growing every day, but the amount provided just is not keeping up. Because of the great lack of organ donors, the constant need for organs, and the wonderful gift-giving opportunity an organ provides, mandatory organ donation should be implemented.
The first organ transplant to ever take place was in 1954, with the successful transplantation of a kidney from a living donor. Although this was a large milestone, there were still many strides to take before an organ would be successfully transplanted from a dead donor to a living recipient. In fact, organ donation did not become something to regularly take place until the late 1980’s, when medical technology was much more advanced. The main reason organ donation was not regularly performed until nearly 30 years after the first transplant is because it was hardly ever successful until then (Timeline of Historical Events). Organs must be removed from a deceased donor within 60 minutes of the heart not beating, any later and the organs will begin the decaying process and will no longer be good to use (Brain Disease; New Tool). When that happens, the already small number of available organs will fail to increase, causing even more of a problem with the growing need of patients not receiving them. The system is devised so that the sickest patients with the greatest need receive organs first, and though that is the best way to do it, there are still thousands of patients slowly dying, waiting to receive their needed organ (Allfather). Though it seems this system would be the most efficient, still 8,021 people died in 2010 waiting on an organ (Matthews). The demand simply will not meet the need unless something is done to make it meet the need.
A prominent reason mandatory organ donation should be implemented is that the lack of organs available does not only effect America. Around the world, there are hundreds of thousands of people in need. In order to try to better meet these demands, people in countries in where poverty is extremely prominent have began selling their own organs for a couple thousand dollars. Kidneys are the world’s most needed organ, but it is also one that someone would only need one of to live, which has led many people to sell it. Many people who come from poverty have resorted to selling a kidney, in attempts to make their lives better for themselves and their families. “Organ trading is wrong because it presupposes that the body is a piece of property akin to our material possessions.” (Fisanick, 17). One issue is currently, if a deceased person is registered as an organ donor, the family of that person can veto the decision and not allow the organ to be used. The other problem with needing family consent is often, the last thing the doctor wants to do is ask the family members of someone who just died if they want their deceased family member’s organs donated (Nelson, Murray). Eligible donors who have chosen to be a donor should have their wishes respected, with no intervention from their family.
Another crucial reason is that many studies have shown that as little as 50% of eligible donor are actually registered organ donors (Roth). Often the reason people aren’t registered isn’t because they object to it, they simply don’t remember or think about doing it. Many Americans say they’d be willing to donate organs after their deaths, yet few fill out donor cards (Nelson, Murray). It’s simply a matter of remembering to do it. In order to make remembering to do it easy, many states have considered passing laws that make organ donation automatic unless you have specifically stated you don’t want to. As Richard Brodsky, a New York State senator, as stated, “What I’ve said to anybody, whether they like it or they don’t like it, we can’t sustain the current system.”(Matthews). Foreign countries such as France, Spain, and Austria have the opt-in/opt-out system, and their amount of donors nearly meets the demand for organs (Matthews). The US currently has the Opt-In system, which is done by checking a little box when applying for a driver’s license (Allfather). It is often ignored or looked over, causing people with viable organs to not be able to donate them even if they weren’t against it. But if the US were to adopt and opt-out system, then someone saying they didn’t want to be a donor would be as simple as checking that little box then applying for their license (Nelson, Murray). This system would make for many more available organs, and maybe even make the availability high enough to wear it meets the needs of the country.
Donating an organ is the ultimate gift any person could give, simply because it saves the life of another. Giving the gift of life is far more important than the right to decide how to dispose of a body that a deceased person will no longer need. When a person is dead, and no longer needs the body, then in all reality a person whom is dying, and could easily be saved by an organ from the deceased person deserves it far more. A person whom is dying has more of a right to life than someone has the right to decide what to do with their body once they’re dead (Walker). Donating organs shouldn’t be considered a charity, it should be considered a moral duty (Nelson, Murray). A moral duty which everyone should want to participate in. Making organ donation mandatory could save up to 18 lives per day, and that sounds far better than those people dying because somebody didn’t want to be a donor (Organ Donation Should Be Made Mandatory). “Anyone, regardless of age, race or gender can become an organ or tissue donor.” (Schwartz, 100). More than 107,991 people were in need of an organ as of June 18th, 2010 (Matthews). One of the main reasons so many people are in need is because there are multiple reasons why a donation may be necessary. Some of those reasons include if a person is ill for years, no medications would prolong life, a transplant is that person’s only chance for survival, or when doctors can give an estimate to how the person will live without it (Schwartz, 3). Those are just the main reasons, there are many. many more as well as to why someone would need a transplant. Donating just one organ can save up to 8 people’s lives, and also can help further scientific research. The need for these organs is doing nothing but increasing daily, there needs to be a change made (Organ Donation Should Be Made Mandatory).
Though organ donation should be made mandatory, there are valid oppositions to it. One reason being that no human is obligated to help another, regardless of moral standing. There is absolutely no legal standing to say that any person. should be forced to help another, even if they are dead and have no say. Though this is a valid opposition, morally any good person should want to help another person if he saw another in need. Though thinking of one’s own death is difficult, each person should realize that donating an organ is one of the best ways to help another person (Organ Donation Should Be Made Mandatory). There are also religious conflicts which could make donating an organ impossible. There are a few minor religions that believe having your body disturbed in that way after death will lead to eternal damnation. Some Christians believe in full resurrection of the body as well. The argument is that making organ donation compulsory would violate people’s right to freedom of religion, though if it were to be an opt-out program, than simply checking the opt-out box would be an easy solution to being sure their organs were not touched after death (Organ Donation Should Be Made Mandatory). There is also the concern that if there were suddenly a mass supply of organs available for donation, that the medical professionals examining the organs will not be as thorough as they currently are, simply because there would be enough organs to meet needs. If there were enough organs, then not examining them correctly could result in the need actually increasing more because a faulty organ will fail if a transplant is attempted and the organ is not healthy. Not only would it not be smart for a medical professional to not properly do his/her job, but it would probably be illegal and cause for him/her losing their job (Organ Donation Should Be Made Mandatory). The final reason people may oppose mandatory organ donation is because of the misguided belief a doctor wouldn’t try as hard to save someone’s life if he/she knew the patient were an organ donor. Back to the reason of it being illegal for a doctor to this, it is not only extremely unlikely, but ridiculous to think of. It is a doctor’s moral responsibility to work as hard as he/she can to save a person’s life, whether the patient are an organ donor or not. This is a misplaced fear with no standing (Matthews). Organ donation can save so many lives, yet it does not happen near as much as it needs to for reasons such as these.
Mandatory organ donation should be made compulsory because there is such a shortage of these organs, the need is only increasing, and it should be a moral duty to do it! As many as 63 people receive an organ daily, while 17 people die waiting for one (Roth). This in no means meets demands. So many lives could be saved daily by making organ donation mandatory, and currently lives are being lost for inadequate reasons. Making organ donation mandatory will not be an easy thing, but making a change could be as simple as checking the box on the license registration sheet. This may seem like a small issue in the scheme of things, but the amount of lives lost from it are unacceptable, and this needs to be adjusted.