Letter: Whose organs?

Sir: Post-mortem examinations are carried out on dead bodies; organs are harvested from living ones, in spite of Professor Harris's use of the term "cadaver".

He should know what most of those carrying donor cards to not. At the time of harvesting they will remain on life-support, be warm, pink and breathing with a ventilator, have a heartbeat and pulse, and have some brain activity. They will also be responsive to pain, requiring paralysing drugs, blood transfusion and anaesthetics for the surgery. Horrifyingly, not all will receive anaesthesia. This is a far cry from the cold, white, stiff lifeless body undergoing post-mortem examination.

Presumed consent (now supported by the BMA) or Professor Harris's wish for compulsion would remove any need for such awkward explanations.

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