I was over the bloody moon to be asked to appear on BBC One's The Big Questions on Sunday. I was one of six people asked to talk about organ donation and discuss the question "Should we presume consent for organ donation in England?"
You can watch my non-sensical answer here, and what I meant to say, below..
What I would have said if I wasn't such a stuttery buffoon:
When I first read about presumed consent, I was 100% in favour. It seemed obvious and a brilliant solution. But then I read more, and thought more and, well...completely changed my mind.
There are two pinch points in organ donation in the UK (including in Op-Out Wales), the donor's consent, and their family's consent.
I recently read that 69% of families would not agree to donating their loved one's organs if they didn't know their wishes. With both opt-in and opt-out, families have the final say. So by using the opt-in system, those families, at the height of their grief and confusion, have some crucial guidance from their loved one. Without that guidance, most people will follow the status quo. In Britain, unfortunately, that status quo is to keep our organs after our death and so I worry that opt-out consent could be catastrophic for the number of donors.
Some people think organ donation choices should be upheld as stringently as a Will. Having experienced my best friend's agonising grief when she lost her Mum very unexpectedly, I think it's not that simple. Families should be allowed to feel they have some control in this situation.
It's simple to say, harder, but not impossible, to do. We need to change the status quo. Organ donation has to be normalised in this country so that families don't have the burden of the decision - instead the decision is an obvious one. An obvious part of a loved one dying and something that brings long lasting pride and comfort to the family.
After the show I went onto the The Big Questions's Facebook Page and read comments from people who had watched it. I found these particularly difficult to stomach. I can only hope they do not represent our society as a whole, otherwise I am deeply ashamed to be a part of it.
What I would like to say to people who refuse to donate their organs after their death "because they might go to a criminal or an alcoholic." Having your life saved by somebody else is the single most life changing epiphany I can imagine. I would like to think that people who may not have made good life choices before, would become much better people afterwards, if you gave them the chance.
What I'd like to say to the many many many people who say they'd rather die than have somebody else's organ inside them (and so wouldn't give their organs either), when you are 48 hours away from death, believe me, really believe me when I say, ALL you want to do is live. You'd give anything for the chance. And you'd never ever stop thanking the person that saved your life. Try to make the right decision without having to have experienced that.
And to the people who believe doctors would let them die so they can harvest their organs for others, I'd say, our NHS is full to the brim with people trying desperately to keep each one of us alive and healthy. The lengths they went to for me were extraordinary, even though I'd have made an excellent donor (liver aside by that point!). And on that subject, I wish I'd had time to thank the two consultants sitting next to me on the show, I am so grateful to people like you, thank you.