Should you get priority organ transplant treatment if you carry a donor card?


Do you carry a donor card? If so, and you live in Israel, come 2011 that same card will give you priority access to an organ transplant. And, not only you but your partner and close relatives will also have priority benefits should they need it.

How come? Well, Israel has become the first country to give donor carriers a legal right to priority treatment should require an organ transplant. The new law is intended to boost donation rates in Israel which have been called ‘grim’ by Prof. Jacob Lavee who is an advocate of the reform.

Organ donation rates vary greatly around the globe. Spain has the highest organ donation rate at 34 deceased donors per million population. Australia instead lags with just 12 deceased donors per million. Only 10% of Israels carry a donor card compared with 1 in 4 in the UK.

According to the Israeli points system if a patient requires an urgent transplant due to their condition, they will get priority but…if two people are in the situation and and equally suitable for a donated organ, the donor card wins out.

The British Medical Association and the British Heart Foundation underlined that the system needed to remain that donated organs are available based on clinical need. Dr. Vivienne Nathanson from the BMA said “Once you start prioritising certain groups, for example those that sign up to the organ register, patients who are really sick and in danger of dying if they don’t receive an organ may end up being pushed to the back of the queue”.

Another system that some countries use including Spain, Belgium and Norway is the so called ‘opt-out’ or ‘presumed consent’ instead of ‘opt-in’. With this process people need to to specifically state that they did not want their organs used for transplants, otherwise consent would be presumed.

What are your thoughts on organ donation? Should you get priority organ transplant treatment if you carry a donor card?

29 Responses to “Should you get priority organ transplant treatment if you carry a donor card?”

  1. 1 patti in cape coral
    December 17, 2009 at 18:05

    It makes sense on first glance. What is proposed for minor children, and people who cannot donate organs because of specific conditions? (For example, a person cannot donate blood if they have had syphilis, not sure how that works out with organs). Also, is it specified what the donation is for, or can the organs just be donated to science in general?

  2. 2 Peter Gizzi UK
    December 17, 2009 at 18:12

    I do not carry a donor card but have bequested my whole body to medical science. They are permitted to use any organs (or parts including my eyes) that may help others. My body may be deep frozen until required. Now even tendons can help others walk again. I feel that is a wonderful lagacy. It may only be used to train surgeons. If a mistake is made on a cadaver a lesson is learnt. If a mistake is made on a living patient the consequences could be very sad.

    Certain religions may not allow this. Those same people though may be happy to receive “spare parts” from someone like me. Being dead I will not be able to object but do feel that would be hypocritical.

    Gordon Brown did suggest more people should do this but has he? Have any poloiticians? Rules for them again!

    As for me getting priority I’m not sure. I’ll be 68 in February and would prefer someone younger to be helped if the situation arose.

  3. 3 Patrick in Vancouver
    December 17, 2009 at 18:13

    “Should you get priority organ transplant treatment if you carry a donor card?”

    If the result of implementing such a policy leads to even a few more organ donations, then it seem reasonable to me. I don’t understand why anyone who is medically eligible, would not willing to be a donor. How selfish one must be to refuse such an honor.

    One question comes to minds. How will we deal with those who are not eligible to be a potential donor? If they might need a transplant, would they be on the priority list or just out of luck?

  4. 4 Robin C
    December 17, 2009 at 19:02

    Redfines the concept of selfless organ donation into organ banking out of self-interest with added family benefits.

    If a family member requires an organ, are you are obligated to pay back the bank its loan of a pound of flesh or fall into default and have your assets (literally) seized?

  5. 5 Dan
    December 17, 2009 at 19:04

    I am in such bad shape I donated my body to Science Fiction 🙂
    (Thank You Rodney Dangerfield)

  6. 6 steve
    December 17, 2009 at 19:17

    The thing most people are unaware about about organ donation, is that to donate vital organs (ie lungs, heart, liver) you need to be alive, with a beating heart. The removal of your organs is the cause of your death. They just don’t find a dead body at a car accident scene and harvest organs from a corpse. The organs are useless after death.

    You need to ask a question, say if automobile safety improves so much, that there are few if any accidents to lead to a brain death type situation? Say if they are able to repair brains in the future? Where will organs come from? Will people be chosen to not be saved, so they can die so their organs can be used? Will we grow people to harvest their organs from?

    • 7 Tom K in Mpls
      December 17, 2009 at 23:14

      As I understand it, muscles such as the heart, are good for up to two hours. This is how tourniquets can save lives and not always kill the limb. I suspect most organs are also good for a while. As for growing, one goal of genetics is to regrow organs in the patient. The trauma of transplant surgery needs to be avoided. Growing people was a fear tactic used by various anti genetics people. It was never considered a practical expense.

    • 8 Patrick from Vancouver WA
      December 18, 2009 at 01:34



      In 2000, a total of 11,650 organ donors were recovered in the U.S. Of these, 5,985 were cadaveric donors, which represented a small increase over the total of 5,824 in 1999. Living donors increased from 4,779 in 1999 to 5,665 in 2000.

      About 88.3 percent of the kidneys transplanted from cadavers (persons who died recently) are still functioning well at one year after surgery. The results are even better for kidneys transplanted from living donors. One year after surgery, 94 percent of these kidneys were still functioning well.


  7. 9 vijay pillai
    December 17, 2009 at 19:57

    Israel known for a fair policy on scarce water resources for more than 4 decades, it is not surpising it has come up with a fair policy on donar card as well.

  8. 10 T
    December 17, 2009 at 21:17

    No. Because when you talk about anything medical, what happens? Somebody makes a decision about rationing care. Is this the way to force everyone to become an organ donor? No.

    People are entitled to have control over their bodies.

  9. 11 Tom K in Mpls
    December 17, 2009 at 23:04

    As a tie breaker, great. But suitability ( age, odds of recovery, general health ) will or should decide first.

    • 12 patti in cape coral
      December 18, 2009 at 15:53

      @ Tom- “According to the Israeli points system if a patient requires an urgent transplant due to their condition, they will get priority but…if two people are in the situation and and equally suitable for a donated organ, the donor card wins out.”

      it appears that the plan is to use it as a tie breaker.

  10. 13 kathy o'keefe
    December 18, 2009 at 07:11

    I think it fantastice idear, it will suit everybodies, if you do not agree with donations you will opt out that mean you do not want other people body parts either, if you medically can not donate but you can opt for donation to science after death and you still be eligible for transplant if require, this will be a fair system

  11. 14 steve
    December 18, 2009 at 14:39

    @ Patrick

    That’s not accurate. They can get bones, eye parts, and non vital organs from cadvers, someone who is DEAD. You must be breathing and have a beating heart to donate vital organs, as vital organs cannot survive the shock of death. You cannot just scoop up a dead body at a car accident scene and harvest organs, the person has to be kept alive until the organs are removed. You may not consider it “alive” but they are breathing and have a beating heart. You cannot donate organs such as a heart or a kidney if you are dead dead.

    • 15 Tom K in Mpls
      December 18, 2009 at 15:25

      There is no ‘shock of death’, it is all about lack of oxygen. The cases with the shortest time to complete the transplant are people on life support. Even then, the more sensitive organs are good for 30 to 60 minutes.

      Read the 7th paragraph: http://tinyurl.com/yhunway

    • 16 Patrick fron Vancouver WA
      December 18, 2009 at 22:56


      Could you site your source for your information? I find many sources that indicate that hours after death (dead, no heart or brain activity), some organs are still usable for transplantation.

      Where can I learn more about this “shock of death” affect on the post mortem viability of organs?

  12. 17 Lilly
    December 18, 2009 at 15:08

    Steve, actually you are incorrect. There are 2 different types of donation.

    Heartbeating donation
    Most donations are from heartbeating donors. This means the donor died but is being supported by a ventilator until the donated organs have been retrieved. This method has a greater success rate because the organs are maintained by oxygenated blood until removal.

    Non-heartbeating donation
    Organs and tissue can also be donated from non-heartbeating donors; this means that the heart has stopped (cardiac arrest) and the patient cannot be resuscitated.

    So yes organs can be used from a patient who has died.

  13. December 18, 2009 at 15:33

    A similar deal is available in the United States from an organ donor network named LifeSharers.

    If you agree to offer your organs first to other LifeSharers members, you’ll get preferred access to the organs of every other member of the network. As the LifeSharers network expands, your chances of getting an organ if you ever need one keep going up — if you are a member. LifeSharers already has over 13,000 members.

    Giving organs first to organ donors creates an incentive for non-donors to become donors. This increases the supply of organs and saves more lives. Saving the maximum number of lives should be the primary goal of our organ donation/transplantation system.

    Giving organs first to organ donors also makes the system fairer. People who aren’t willing to donate their own organs should go to the back of the transplant waiting list as long as there is an organ shortage.

    If you want to donate your organs to other organ donors, you can join LifeSharers at http://www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. Membership is free. There is no age limit. No one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.

  14. 19 patti in cape coral
    December 18, 2009 at 15:58

    @ Steve- Do you know at what point a person is considered legally dead? is it after brain death, even though the heart may still be functioning? Or is it only when you’re fully dead throughout the body? Just wondering what the law says.

  15. 21 Peter Kuol Lual
    December 18, 2009 at 17:01

    From Juba South Sudan.

    There is need to pay attention to this wolrd’s biggest threat and that is the climatic change, I am particularly urging the so called delveloped countries to safe all the innocent communities around the globe, by trying their best of reducing all indusrial activities not to harm our usual global climate.

  16. 22 Chintan in Houston
    December 18, 2009 at 19:07

    There are already rules and you are ranked on the donor list as per your age, your weight and health condition apart from the failing organ. It might be unfair to some high risk/old people but you at current organ donation rates there aren’t enough around to help everyone.
    An alcoholic who is 75 years old does not usually qualify for liver tranplant.
    This law does not increase donations, it just gives you priority on the list, its rather ineffective. We need more organ donors!

  17. 23 Jennifer
    December 18, 2009 at 19:18

    Re: Should you get priority organ transplant treatment if you carry a donor card?

    It seems to me that this “priority” is coercion to get someone to donate their organs. There is NOTHING you could do to convince me to let you take your pick of my vital organs. Even after death.

    No, someone should not get “priority” just because they decide to be a donor. This is a very personal choice and I don’t think it’s something that those who refuse to do without legitimate reasons. They should not be given any less “priority” than those who want to be donors.

    • 24 patti in cape coral
      December 18, 2009 at 20:33

      Jennifer- Would it be too nosy for me to ask why you would never consider donating your organs after death? To me it seems like the kindest and most logical thing to do, seeing that they are only going to rot, so presumably, wherever we end up after death, we don’t need our bodies there. I would be gratified if my end meant a second chance for someone else. No judgement, just curious.

  18. 25 steve
    December 18, 2009 at 19:40

    @ Patti

    It depends on the jurisidiction, some may define death as brain death, but that is for purposes such as this, to “allow” for organ donation so that it’s not considered murder. There are places where death is defined as heart death. But I challenge anyone who uses brain death as the definition, why are their bodies not decomposing if they are “dead”?

  19. 26 John in Salem
    December 18, 2009 at 21:29

    I don’t like it. Transplants should be given on the basis of need only and the “opt-out” policy is the sanest one I’ve heard so far.
    All of this may soon be moot, however. A lot of money is being diverted from other research and put into the study of regeneration of organs and tissue – in place, without the need for surgery – because of the success the technique is showing.
    Here is one story, although you can Google “extracellular matrix” and take your pick of hundreds of articles about it.

  20. 27 Ronald Almeida
    December 20, 2009 at 13:23

    First of all the BBC should get rid of that gory picture they exibit on this site. It is even worse than any other I have ever seen.

  21. December 20, 2009 at 17:13

    People need to be convinced not cajoled.

  22. 29 Max
    December 20, 2009 at 17:14

    I have Hep-C from a transfusion in the 80’s.
    I had a donor card before that. Now I need a Transplant. and I have been thrown off the only Transplant group for hundreds of miles around my home because of a Cannabis test. I have a Doctor supported Med. Cannabis card.
    My question is would you also reduce my chance to live based on a DONOR card that I am not capable to attain from no fault of my own. I support helping to get regular people to want to help. YET…
    Lets be wise in our efforts . . .

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