THE CALL FOR DONATION OF organs by people deemed medically brain-dead has received the thumbs up from two eminent doctors, and mixed blessings from religious leaders.
Professor Errol “Mickey” Walrond and Professor George Nicholson both agree that the donation of organs in order to facilitate transplants to people in need was a step in the right direction – and ought to be pursued with vigour by Government.
On Thursday, Minister of Health Donville Inniss said Government would work “with a sense of determination” to address the issue of organ donation as it related to “brain stem death” while acknowledging that there might be “major ethical and perhaps religious issues” that might fuel debate.
The two physicians explained that a distinction had to be made between people who were actually dead – that is, they no longer breathed or had a heartbeat – and those deemed to be brain-dead; that is, they were on life support with no chance of recovery.
Walrond explained that for transplant cases it was best – for health reasons – to use organs and tissue such as the heart, skin and cornea of people who might be brain-dead rather than clinically dead.
In this regard, he said, Government ought to consider legislation whereby once at least two doctors had certified that the person was indeed brain-dead, then that person’s organs ought to be donated.
At present, unless the person has willed his organs to be donated or his or her family is in agreement with such a donation, it is unlikely to take place.
Monsignor Vincent Blackett of the Roman Catholic Church said the issue was a delicate one that ought not to be left solely up to the medical fraternity.
“Who decides when to pull the plug? Proper legislation would have to be put in place and it must be guided by moral, ethical, medical and religious principles,” he said.
Rev. Dr Nigel Taylor, head of the Barbados Evangelical Association, questioned who would determine when someone was dead or, as he said, “there was cessation of life”.
He agreed though that if a person willed their organs to be donated then that request should be honoured.
“We can’t take any privileges that are not ours,” Taylor told the SUNDAY SUN. “It is God’s will.”