Intended for healthcare professionals

Editor's Choice

Changing attitudes, improving lives

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 07 March 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l1026

Re: Changing attitudes, improving lives

We fully support the view that strategies to improve education and public awareness to change attitudes to organ donation is key.

Erin Walker eloquently describes how the privilege of receiving an organ transplant has allowed her to experience and enjoy many of life's rites of passage. She treats her recipient organs, and therefore the donors, with respect by honouring 'transplant anniversaries'. And they in turn are present at, and share in, her significant life events.

Remembering them in this way shows us that organ donation is not simply a transactional give/take process: the donor can be thought of as taking on the role of 'guardian' for someone in need. They might become a guardian of the heartbeat, a guardian of the breath, a guardian of the water or a guardian of sight. Whereas others leave and live on only in the memories of those who knew them, the guardian donor chooses to remain and lives on in this world.

The opt-out system may or may not increase the number of organs available for transplantation, but the main intent (and benefit) would be to allow greater opportunity for life, love & happiness - for oneself after death.

Competing interests: No competing interests

11 March 2019
Marysia Cywinski
ST6 anaesthesia
Mark Davies, consultant in anaesthesia & perioperative medicine
Royal Liverpool & Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust
Liverpool L7 8XP