Views & Reviews Personal View

The organ donation debate is long overdue

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 31 January 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:278

    At 1 am on a Sunday morning in November 2006, my world changed forever. My husband, a 37 year old lecturer at Oxford University, who had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of 3, sat up in bed and had a sudden, massive haemoptysis. The events that followed were a blur of blue lights, alarms, and fear. After bagging and BIPAP (bi-level positive airways pressure) failed to reduce his hypercapnia, he was intubated and ventilated. Six hours earlier we had been having dinner with friends.

    There followed a nightmare, made survivable only by the support of family, friends, and the wonderful intensive care and cystic fibrosis specialist teams. The odds were poor. I was told that fibrotic lungs respond poorly to ventilation and that it was proving very difficult to ventilate him. A trial extubation failed, a Hayek oscillator was brought in to try and clear the secretions, his CO2 remained raised, and everyone kept asking whether he was on the lung transplant list, which he was not.

    There was some doubt about whether having a tracheostomy would affect his chances of being accepted on to a transplant list. A call to the transplant team confirmed that this was …

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