Letter: Transplant concern

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The Independent Culture
Transplant concern

Sir: It is exactly 20 years since my kidney transplant operation. Sadly the transplant failed after 15 healthy years and I am now back on dialysis and on the waiting list for another transplant.

Thank goodness for the existence of sensible doctors such as Dr Andrew Robinson (letter, 24 February).

In 1986 I participated in a TV debate with, among others, Dr David Hill (letter, 22 February) who was then, as now, getting publicity for his strange and unorthodox views on brain-death.

The brain-death criteria were established in 1976 because advances in medicine necessitated a new definition. It was no longer sufficient to link death with the heart stopping.

Before organs are taken from a donor by the transplant team a completely separate team of doctors, who are responsible for the care of their patient, have assured themselves that the brain-death criteria have been met. There is no conflict of interest and it has frequently been said that a patient being considered as a potential donor will, if anything, receive even better attention than a patient who is not.

Dr Hill says the patient remains on life-support whilst organs are taken. He does not. He remains on support but is dead. The support takes over temporarily some of the functions of the once live brain.

Relatives of donors do not deserve to have concerns raised about the certainty of the death of their loved ones. I know that no patient would wish to receive a transplant under questionable circumstances.


Ewelme, Oxfordshire

The writer is a past chairman of the National Kidney Federation