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“All people should consider themselves potential organ, eye, and tissue donors. Your age, race, ethnicity, religion, or health (in most cases) does not matter” (Health Resources and Services Administration, 2021). There are absolute contraindications for organ donation in the USA. This includes a donor with a transmissible infectious disease that will affect the recipient, such as HIV, active HBV, West Nile virus, encephalitis of unknown cause, Jakob-Creutzfeldt’s disease, malaria, and disseminated diseases tuberculosis (Smith, 2003). Registering to be an organ donor can be as easy as checking a box when you get a driver’s license or registering online with your state’s organ procurement organization.
England has a very different law around organ donation. All adults in England are considered to have agreed to be organ donors when they die unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups. This is commonly referred to as an ‘opt-out system. It is also referred to as Max and Keira’s Law. Organs will not automatically be procured if you do not opt-out and die unexpectedly. The family would always be involved before donation took place (NHS Blood and Transplant, 2020).
I believe we should actively encourage organ donation. Organ donors can save the life of someone suffering from a life-threatening disease. As a sibling of an organ donor, it made the grieving process a little more bearable, knowing that my sister was helping to save the lives of others.
I do not think the USA should adopt the European model of presumed consent. This is a very personal decision that is usually accompanied by deep thought. The ethical principle of autonomy is known as ‘” respect for persons.” Autonomy is the right to self-determination. This principle provides individuals with the right to make free, uncoerced, and informed decisions (Porche, 2019). I feel this principle is a perfect guide when considering organ donation.
Talking to loved ones about organ donation can be difficult. The complexity of the individuals’ attitudes towards donation and the need for more sophisticated future studies of interactions between the broader factors influencing donation (such as social norms and existing legislation in each country) and individual factors, such as attitudes and beliefs, need to be considered (Nair-Collins, 2010).