Let’s Talk Organ Donation

Let’s talk organ donation. How many of you knew about the Organ Donation Act in Wales? Did you know about ‘opting-in’ or ‘opting-out’? Let’s talk about it.

Currently in Wales there is a scheme which came into effect in January of 2015 in an attempt to increase the number of organ donations throughout Wales. It states that you can ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ of organ donation. But what does that mean? It means that in the event of your death, a decision has to be made on whether or not your organs will be donated. Without making a decision about whether you want your organs to be donated or not (the ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ policies as they are dubbed) the decision is in your family’s hands. With your consent to be an organ donor post-mortem (by ‘opting-in’) and by ticking the box on your card which states your family is aware of your decision, there is no dispute. The same happens if you decide you don’t want to be an organ donor (by ‘opting-out’).

If you don’t make a decision – which isn’t the be-all and end-all of life – your family decides for you. There is an option which not many are aware of – you can appoint a representative to make the decision on your behalf. This means that they make the decision on your behalf when you die, and it means that the decision is made by someone you know will do what’s in your best interest, rather than someone who would make the decision based on their own views.

I can’t tell you which way to register. That’s not my place. I can, however, offer you my own personal opinion. When I turned eighteen, I made the decision to ‘opt-in’ to the organ donation act. My decision was made without the influence of family or friends – it was a decision I made on my own behalf because of the beliefs I have surrounding organ donation. It wasn’t either a spur-of-the-moment decision. I did my research and came to the conclusion that I’d like to be an organ donor when I die.

My role here isn’t to tell you that you should ‘opt-in’ and it’s in no way discouraging you not to ‘opt-out’. That decision is solely yours and yours alone to make. A topic of debate I’ve seen presented by some is that they want to die ‘complete’, which I entirely understand. I have my own beliefs about life after death, and to an extent, the fact that I’d rather be cremated than buried does influence my decision to be an organ donor post-mortem. My beliefs are my own and you are equally entitled to yours. Your decision one way or another should not be judged, because it is a decision you have made for yourself, in your best interest.

My role here is however, to tell you that if you don’t make a decision, you really do need to talk to the people who will make the decision on your behalf. There are too many people who don’t discuss organ  donation and many decisions are made by family members who disagree with their relatives’ decision to either ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’. It is crucial that we all have the discussion about organ donation.

I made my family sit down and have an adult conversation about my decision before I applied to ‘opt-in’. My brother has not made a decision to ‘opt-in’ or to ‘opt-out’ but by having the discussion, I’m aware of his beliefs on the matter, and I, in turn, am aware of my parents’ decisions on the matter. When the (hopefully very, very distant) time should come for me to have to make the decision on their behalves, I know that I will act in their best interests. I know this, because I’ve had the discussion with them about it. In the same way they’ve had the discussion with me.

Whether you want to be an organ donor or not, let your family know. Express your views in the most basic way possible. Let them know whether you would ultimately like your organs donated. You don’t need to jump into the decision, you do however need to have your family know which side you’d land on. If you don’t talk about it, they may make a decision you disagree with because they think it’s in your best interest. Tell them. Have the discussion.

Let’s all have the chat about organ donation.

By Tirion Davies