Foreign Affairs

Gordon Brown Wants Your Organs

The UK Nanny State just revealed its latest agenda item and it is decidedly ghoulish. Last week, British (but really Scottish) Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, announced his support of a Labour government plan to snatch the body parts of any citizen.  The good news is that this policy only applies to dead people.  The bad news is obvious. This is the ultimate death tax, surgically extracted.

Without any apparent squeamishness, Gordon Brown backed the Presumed Consent Scheme (they often call programs “schemes” in England) to redress the demand for transplanted organs by fiat.  Here’s the deal.  Rather than go looking for those bothersome donor cards on a fresh cadaver, the British populace is now fair game. If you don’t specifically carry a card saying “leave my corpse alone” — known as  “the opt out option”, or unless one’s family is on hand to object, one’s remains are considered fair game for an organ harvest festival.

The justification for adopting Presumed Consent is a function of a recognized market deficit. The Government has noticed that 1000 patients die annually while waiting for a critically-needed transplant. Another 8000 are on various organ waiting lists hoping to get lucky when they go critical or for just the right replacement part to turn up in the chop shop.

According to the NHS Organ Donor Registry, there are more than 14 million Brits who have voluntarily listed themselves as donors, however, one third of all families refuse consent for organ donation when a loved one dies, usually in unexpected circumstances.   In typical fashion, the government plans to overcome this donor reluctance by setting up — you guessed it — a new Task Force to enlighten the populace about the importance of giving this gift of life. 

But the reality is that Gordon Brown is not pushing this policy to engender a national altruistic ethos.  Truth to tell, this   PC (and you can’t overlook those initials) scheme has more to do with failures in both the National Health System (NHS) and the just plain horrid health of UK citizens.

For a start, going to the hospital in the UK can kill you. The number of patient deaths in NHS hospitals from the super bug MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) continues to rise.  MRSA bacteria are commonly found on the skin and are difficult to treat with conventional antibiotics. MRSA is spread when medical personnel and the hospital cleaning staff do not wash their hands properly. The actual number of MRSA deaths are impossible to count since the super bug is rarely the primary cause of death, but up to 1000 deaths per year is a good guess.  That’s the same number as those who die annually waiting for a transplant.  Likewise, in 2007, 3,663 cases of Pseudomonas were reported in British hospitals, a 41% rise over 2006. Pseudomonas bacteria – commonly known as septicemia or blood poisoning – breed in water and spread via contaminated medical equipment.  Patients who contract pseudomonas have a 20 per cent chance of survival.  Those who do not die outright can suffer blindness or the loss of limbs.

In an attempt to stop the spread of these modern day plagues, the NHS spent an estimated  £1,000,000,000 (that’s roughly $2 billion) in 2007. And as long as we’re talking about real money, NHS hospitals have run up debts of £1 billion, creating a critical health care credit crunch.  The UK Telegraph claims that more than 20 percent of   NHS hospital trusts  “are so dependent on loans to meet their running costs that millions of pounds intended for patient care are due to be diverted to pay debts and interest payments.”  55 hospital trusts are known to have loans totaling close to £800 million, with interest payments nearing the  £200 million mark.  To pay these loans and the interest, medical staff and services, already substandard, will have to be cut.  The Labour government continues to insist that the NHS is NOT facing a financial crisis. One wonders by what measure a pending medical system meltdown would be acknowledged.

Here is the donor dilemma.  If one enters a hospital for kidney dialysis and contracts an MRSA, dialysis can no longer be performed.  But even if a donor organ is found, there is no guarantee the recipient will be isolated from MRSA.  Intensive Care Units are equally vulnerable to MRSA outbreaks.

To escape the NHS, more than 70,000 Britons — known as “health tourists” —  have gone as far as India, Malaysia and South Africa for major operations. This figure is expected   to rise to almost 200,000 by the end of the decade. 

Enter the EU twist.  A Health Services Directive is before the European Union.  It would guarantee that patients from any EU member nation would be entitled to treatment in every other member nation “with no worry about costs, safety and quality.”  Perhaps this is why Gordon Brown was torn about signing the New EU Reform Treaty a few months back. He wanted to be in the club, but he also knows that an influx of immigrants and visitors seeking health care in the UK could bring about the complete collapse of the NHS. This is not a happy legacy.

Those in favor of   Presumed Consent say that what is done with their organs after death should not be up to their next of kin, which frankly misses the point.  A voluntary donor system already exists. The naysayers come down against this idea on the basis that there will always be a bungling bureaucrat who will invariably screw up the paperwork (or hack off the wrong part).  More importantly, freedom lovers assert that totalitarianism cannot be disguised as humanitarianism.

One blogger ironically suggested that Presumed Consent would have the greatest appeal to the British tax authorities.  A number of transplant patients will defy the odds and be able to resume productive working lives. Once they begin to earn taxable income again, these additional revenues will go into the bottomless pit of Labour schemes and to fight the war against super bugs.

To bolster his position on Presumed Consent, Brown cited the “success” of this policy in Spain which, inarguably, has the highest organ donor rate in the world.  This puts one in mind of Dinesh D’Souza’s observation about religious devotion.  If complete submission is required from a faith tradition, then there is no such thing as piety.  In other words, a faith tradition does which not allow deviation or debate cannot foster the unfettered expression of belief. 

Only when freely given can any religious act be deemed holy. Coercion and fear is ungodly, no matter which deity is heading up the operation. The same goes for legislated coercion.  It is not much consolation, but it will take an Act of Parliament to add Presumed Consent to the British legal statutes. 


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