Bioethics Blogs

From Jackie and Me: A Plea for Opt-Out Organ Donation

Three weeks ago, my dear friend Jackie, a internationally recognized bioethicist in her fifties who lives in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, went to bed with what she thought was a bad case of flu. A few days later she was really ill, and her partner and another dear friend persuaded her to go to an emergency care clinic. After a round of tests, Jackie texted me: “The doctor said, ‘Your liver isn’t very happy.’ I felt like telling him, ‘Meanwhile, my spleen is moderately content but my pancreas would like a 1.3 percent pay raise, so what are you going to do about it?’ Luckily I refrained–they don’t have much of a sense of humor, these consultants.”

She grew steadily worse, and a few days later the doctors said she was in liver failure. None of the tests could explain what had caused it, but by Friday of last week they told her partner that unless she received a liver transplant within three days, she would die. She was moved to a liver specialist unit and placed second on the waitlist for livers in the U.K. And then the wait began. All over the world, those of us who loved her held our breath, posting messages of fear, hope, and prayer on Facebook and Twitter. We woke on Saturday morning to learn that a miracle had happened. A healthy liver had become available and she was undergoing the eight or so hours of transplant surgery that we hoped would save her life. Our gratitude to the unfortunate donor was boundless, if mixed with sorrow that this person had died.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.