Thursday, January 17, 2008

Don't Recommend the Liver

This story has been bubbling away for a few days, and it disturbs me - probably because, for once, I genuinely do not know where I stand on it. I can see perfectly well that the arguments for 'presumed consent' - at least in terms of outcome - are strong, clear and, in terms of utilitarian calculus, unanswerable. One really ought to make one's corpse available if it's going to make a lot of people's lives much better, or indeed give them another lease thereof. It's an instrumentalist view of the human body, yes, but, in practice, I'd probably go along with it on the basis of so much good outcome. (I used to carry a card, with the footnote 'Don't recommend the liver'.) And yet, and yet... It's the very idea of 'presumed consent' that is chilling. That's one big presumption - too big, I suspect, to be trusted in the clumsy hands of the NHS. And medicine - especially hospital medicine - does, regrettably, attract more than its fair share of sociopaths who can be relied on to handle things in the most insensitive and arrogant manner possible. Not like the charming Spanish surgeon (and leading crooner) who is behind Spain's organ donation success story. Anyway... any thoughts?


  1. It's a utilitarian, materialistic, collectivist and terribly bleak view of human life that we're made up of interchangeable body parts.

    What about "in my flesh shall I see God"?

    And what's the attutude of Islam to this, because they'll be running the show in another thirty years?

  2. Good point, Philip (if, I hope, a tad pessimistic). It seems Islam is broadly in favour, at least if it's to save life. With Judaism it is, of course, more complicated...

  3. In the end, I'm agin it. But, if it comes to pass, would I actually exempt myself? I doubt it...