Letter: Donor card 'default' and 'deception'

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The Independent Online
Sir: I read with interest the recent articles and subsequent correspondence about proposals for a national organ donor register ('Transplants that brought comfort to the bereaved', 17 August; Letters, 19, 22 August). As the widow of Jimmy Boyce, the member of parliament who died while waiting for a heart transplant operation, I am trying to come to terms with the fact that, had a suitable heart been available in time, my husband might still have been alive.

Although Jimmy died at home and had a badly diseased heart, the hospital telephoned the following day to ask me if they could use skin, bone and corneas for transplant purposes. Jimmy had carried a donor card and I knew his wishes, so I gave my consent, but it was not something I wanted to think about on the most distressing day of my life.

I can empathise with the points raised by Dr Hill (letter, 19 August) about the difficulties of certifying death when the patient is still breathing, albeit mechanically. Many people have doubts about being donors because they are afraid that the hospital will not try so hard to keep them alive in the event of a potentially fatal accident. The answer has to be increased public awareness, reassurance and openness.

Nothing can compensate for the loss of someone you love dearly, but there may be some comfort in the knowledge that you have perhaps saved the life of someone who was waiting for the hospital to ring with the message: 'we may have something for you'.

Yours sincerely,

BARBARA BOYCE

Rotherham,

South Yorkshire

23 August

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