April 13th, 2008
A recent organ donation case has sparked much anger from across the country. The daughter of a woman who was in serious need of a kidney transplant suddenly died, but her organs were distributed to strangers against her wishes despite her mother being in need. The ruling was that preference couldn’t be given to the mother even though the daughter had always wished to help, even expressing interests to be a “living donor” but never completing the formalities.
Laura Ashworth, from Bradford, suddenly died from an asthma attack on 2nd April aged 21. Because she had agreed to be an organ donor whilst she was alive, the decision was made to user her organs for transplant after she died. However, even though Rachel Leake, the mother of Laura, was in desperate need of a kidney she was not allowed to take it because no preferential treatment could be given, and the kidneys went to three strangers on the transplant waiting list. Many people have felt outraged that the state could intervene in such a way when it is so intuitive that donors should be allowed to help their family first. Not only have Laura’s wishes been disrespected but she has left behind her young daughter who is now dependent on her suffering mother.
Mrs Leake is horrified by the decision and has said:
“I believe it should be overturned, I really do. It’s an absolutely ridiculous law. Laura’s helped three people through this, but Laura would have wanted to help me. To help her mum.”
The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) defended its decision to not allow Mrs Leake to take Laura’s kidneys. Adrian McNeil, who is chief executive of the HTA, said:
“The central principle of matching and allocating organs from the deceased is that they are allocated to the person on the UK Transplant waiting list who is most in need and who is the best match with the donor. In line with this central principle, a person cannot choose to whom their organ can be given when they die; nor can their family.”
Even though he says this, he admits that there can be special circumstances to consider, which is why in the future the laws may be revised. It is just unfortunate, however, that such a statement will not help Laura’s mother. What is especially terrible is that not only has this decision cost the mother and daughter but so many people have now lost faith in the donation system and have subsequently removed their name from the register. I cannot blame them: who wants to give something away voluntarily to know their wishes won’t even be respected? Everyone would help their family if they were given the chance, especially their own mother who gave them life in the first place.