By Paula Manoli-Gray
The issue of organ donation was brought to the fore recently through two separate and coincidental news stories on the issue.
I first read about a proposed bill that (if passed) will allow authorities to ask driver’s licence applicants if they would like to be registered to become posthumous organ donors. A decision is pending soon on the matter.
Around a week later, there was a story regarding a young man who tragically passed away on the island, and whose organs had been donated to multiple recipients both in Cyprus and abroad through the consent of his family.
Organ donation is not a topic that many people like to think or talk about; there is a sense of ‘tempting fate’ or of being forced to confront something that is not pleasant to consider.
As a result, many people – who would not object to donating their organs if the unthinkable happened – are not registered as donors, with the island having low numbers compared to other parts of the world.
I am not aware of the Greek Orthodox Church’s stance on the matter; an online search has told me that there is no official policy, but that around the world, various Greek Orthodox churches ‘support’ organ or tissue donation, so it does not appear to be an issue of religion for locals.
Whilst the idea to ‘remind’ people to register when applying for a driver’s licence is indeed a positive one, I personally believe that the process should work in reverse.
Rather than asking people to register their intent, there should be an automatic process whereby healthy organs are donated, with an option to opt-out by registering a wish to not donate organs posthumously if someone is opposed to the idea.
And there are indeed people who would not wish to be on a donor register, for a variety of personal reasons – and that is every citizen’s right.
I believe that those who feel strongly against organ donation would not be remiss in registering for an opt-out if the topic was clearly and properly promoted and disseminated.
But if a larger number are simply not registered because it has never crossed their mind, they assume their family would take care of giving consent, or they simply cannot bear to think of such issues, then an automatic process would take this burden of responsibility away from them – and their next of kin.