Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Opt-In or Opt-Out?

Went to an excellent debate today on organ donation, specifically the current debate on whether citizens of the UK should have to choose NOT TO donate their organs following death (Opt-Out) rather than the current system where we choose TO donate our organs (Opt-In).  Representing those against any change was Earl Howe, conservative spokesperson on health and an Intensive Care doctor from Addenbrooke's Hospital in Oxford.  The other side was represented by Dr Evan Davies, Liberal Democrat MP and Veronica English, vice-chairwoman of the BMA Ethics Committee.

There are about 8000 people waiting for a transplant, with about 2300 transplants carried out each year and something like 1000 patients die each year waiting for a new organ.  The UK is waaaaaaaay down the list in terms of donor numbers with ~13 per million population, compared with Italy (21 pmp), France (22 pmp) and Spain (35 pmp).  When a patient dies 40% of patient's families will refuse, but survey's have shown that if the choice is actually put in front of a person an enormous majority (90% I think) would to sign up to the Organ Donor Register.

So, with Opt-Out, you presume consent.  You assume that if the patient were alive and able to give his or her consent, they would choose to allow their organs to be used for transplant.  Is that something you can presume?  Do we, does anyone, have an assumed 'right' to someone's organs?  Would you like to have an organ from a person when you couldn't be sure that the donor wanted their organs to be used?  With there being so many people dying before an organ can be found do we have the luxury of being apathetic to the need to donate organ?

There are so many more questions and I have a lot of opinions, but do you? Have you thought about organ donation?

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The View from the Other Side

Well, here they are:

my irritating little buggers of wisdom teeth.  In my first year I spent two weeks with an oral surgery department and saw several patients have their wisdom teeth out under general anaesthetic.  This week it was my turn.  What a weird experience to be on the other side, to be the one led into theatre and asked to lie down on the table.  "Sharp scratch" is what I've heard them say a thousand times when they put the cannula in...not so bad really, "This might feel painful as it goes in" is what they say when they inject the propofol (the white coloured anaesthetic)...and it really does hurt.

Anyway, I'm left doped up on painkillers and getting bored with episodes of ER.  I'd kill to be able to eat Big Mac.