Thursday, 17 January 2008

You Can't Have Our Organs! Over Our Dead Bodies!

It seems that the government of this fine (translation: not as bad as a lot of other countries) country (the UK, in case I have any readers I haven't met) is considering a bill that could revolutionise the organ donation system. There's a thing about it here on good old Comment is Free.
To me, mandatory donation of healthy organs and tissue upon death makes a hell of a lot of sense, with the usual namby-pamby opt-out clause available for the religiously squeamish of course. What really surprised me (I'm more naive than I thought, it seems) was the vocal reaction of those shouting stupid things like: "it's another stealth tax!", "it's the nanny state gone mad!", "It's like 1984 all over again!"
Are these people fundamentally mental? Are they, in fact, several coco-pops short of turning the milk chocolaty? What precisely do they intend to be doing with their organs once they're gone? I summarise the beliefs and practices that might lead to such objections below:

1. I'm vaguely religious and uncomfortable about the whole thing.
A lot of people seem to be objecting on the grounds of some wishy-washy variant of Christianity or another. Their bodies are God's and don't belong to the state or somesuch garbage. The odd thing is, one of their central beliefs - dualism - would suggest that they need their bodies less than we godless heathens. You see, they believe in the soul (or they're supposed to at any rate) which is separate from the body, so no matter how much you mash and mangle the corpse, Mr. Soul (see, there's a little James Brown in everyone. He was a busy man) swishes his way off to heaven or hell unperturbed by gore and mayhem. So, surely they have a very good reason to donate their gooey bits to the cause? Especially the Catholics, who can surely get some time-off-purgatory-for-posthumous-good-behaviour out of it.

2. My religion specifically says you can't chop me up for some reason
Some religions have proscriptions about non-manglement of corpses post-mortem. Apparently the soul or the spirit can get confused if its earthly vessel is eviscerated before it's entered the right post-code into its heavenly sat-nav. So I guess this would mean those religions bar anyone from the afterlife if they are, say, eaten by a wild animal or severely mashed in an horrendous yet amusing farming mishap. If your god is going to bar you from eternal bliss just because you happened to get eaten by a tiger, surely he's not a very nice chap anyway? These people should reconsider their relationship with that part of their brains they call "god".

3. I'm coming back as a zombie so I need all my bits intact
I admit this one might be a rare point of view in these enlightened, post-pharaoh times but let's cover it anyway. You might be fully intending to rise from the dead and at that point, you assume, you're going to need all your various parts present and connected in roughly the right way. Or, if you happened to be 5,000 years old and Egyptian you might dread the disappointment of waking up and not being able to play the amusing canopic jar mystery hunt the organ game. However, let's focus on the real issue here. If you come back from the dead as a zombie, what are you going to do with a full set of kidneys? You're not going to be enjoying quite the active social life you did back when denial was just a river in Egypt anyway. Rotting flesh is a real turn off in modern social circles.

4. My partner or spouse is a necrophiliac and it'd be rude to disappoint him
(Clarification: I'm assuming most necrophiliacs are male as, not wanting to think about it too deeply, I don't see a woman getting quite the same level of gratification from a corpse. Although I'd be the first to admit that my knowledge of rigour-mortis is scant at best, so maybe there's something in it. Answers on a non-illustrated postcard.)
This is the most plausible of my reasons as it involves an actually alive person. See how far I had to stretch to find a reason that wasn't entirely mumbo-jumbo based? See where I had to go to come up with an even vaguely plausible argument? Those people who fall into category 4 can feel free to fill in the opt-out forms. They might want to invest in a very large refrigerator as well.

5. I read the Daily Mail
This is a sure sign that brain function has ceased entirely. The ambulance will arrive shortly to take your organs to the nearest hospital. Please be patient.

So, I think my point can be summarised thus:

Dead Things Don't Need Organs!

I think that sums it up. Why can't we all just get to the sensible conclusion that bodies are just dead things? We don't need them for anything and neither does God, Allah, Shiva, Thor, Xenu, Osiris, Zeus or any of the other made up godly types. Why not ease the pain of another human being after you've gone? Sure, you won't be around to bask in the warm fuzzy glow of having saved someone's life, but if you like you can have a little preemptive bask now on the basis that you may do one day. Go on, nobody will think the worse of you.


artificialhabitat said...


I finally plucked up the courage to go to CiF and read the story (after yesterday's horrific brain melting incident).

I read the first five comments and had to walk away......

pode said...

It strikes me that, for number 4, they don't need an intact liver and kidneys...

Stephen Bain said...

Good point, although maybe the feling of straw stuffing just doesn't cut it? Come to think of it, I really didn't want to think of that.

They could, however, be a cannibal with a taste for liver and kidneys and, er, eyeballs...

They could be both a cannibal and a necrophiliac. Although I suspect I'm now describing a world-wide population of one or less people.