Register as an organ donor and ensure life after death - ancient Egyptian-style

Almost everyone would accept an organ if they were offered one – yet only 57 per cent of families consent to the donation of their loved one’s organs. Why the selfishness?

Share
Related Topics

One of the few facts schoolchildren tend not to forget about ancient Egypt is that the Pharaohs were buried with their servants. When the big man finally shuffled off to that Great Pyramid in the desert, his devoted attendants would be gently despatched to the afterlife with him, via a gentle whack about the head with a mallet.

In these enlightened times it appears an act of monstrous selfishness and vanity, but the same is happening in this country, every day.

It is only relatively recently that advances in medical science have bestowed upon our organs the power to give life to others once we are done with them, yet most of us still choose to have these squidgy little miracle-workers buried in the earth or obliterated in incinerators.

Only this week, two nine-year-old twin boys in Manchester came home from hospital with a new kidney each, both from the same donor, after waiting just three days. It’s the sort of event that makes you feel overjoyed at the wonder of humanity, but they’re too rare.

Some 7,000 people in Britain are currently waiting for an organ. It’s likely that more than a thousand of them will die before they get one, but the most telling stat is the one that the NHS Blood and Transplant unit is currently quoting as the centrepiece of a new strategy it has launched this morning.

Almost everyone would accept an organ if they were offered one – yet only 57 per cent of families consent to the donation of their loved one’s organs. Why the selfishness? What can be done?

There is much debate over whether the system should be an opt-in or opt-out one. The Welsh Assembly has already passed a bill to change to assume consent unless otherwise arranged.

Israel and Singapore have swelled their organ donation registers with policies that put people happy to donate their organs higher up the list to receive one.

Great Britain already has 20 million people on the donation register, but only 60 per cent tell their families they have done so. Rather incredibly, families can and often do overturn the pre-stated desires of the dead, and say no to donation even when the deceased is on the register.

Of the 500,000 people who die in the UK every year, only 5,000 of those do so in circumstances in which organ donation is possible. This is to say, in hospital, and usually having been kept alive on a ventilator first. Sometimes people who die while waiting for an organ transplant end up not donating their own.

Objections, predictably, come from religious groups, whose ideas about life remain largely unevolved from the time of the Pharaohs. Other shrill claims along the lines of “the state doesn’t own my liver.” But, like it or not, the state will take a sizeable chunk of your assets when you’re gone. That’s a system you simply can’t opt out of, and at least you can be fairly sure your kidneys won’t be used to clean anyone’s moat.

Mercifully, not many of us believe in an afterlife anymore, at least not in the way the Pharaohs did, yet it is now, in a sense possible. Each of our bodies can transform the lives of nine different people, once we’re done with them, and instantaneously too. So if you want the day you die to be the greatest day of your life, sign up here.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you have experience of B2B s...

Citifocus Ltd: German Speaking Client Specialist

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious asset management house seeks a...

Citifocus Ltd: Performance & Risk Oversight

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: This is a varied role focusing on the firm's mutua...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of Scotland's leading train...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

David Cameron’s immigration speech: I broke my promise; this time will be different

John Rentoul
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game  

Manchester was ahead of the pack in honouring Alan Turing

Simon Kelner
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game