14/02/2012 17:24 GMT | Updated 15/04/2012 06:12 BST

Let's Put the Living Ahead of the Dead on Organ Donation

The British Medical Association (BMA) is reportedly calling for an opt-out system for organ donation, meaning that it would become the norm to take the organs of a dead person to help someone in need unless they object. Quite frankly, that is the very least that should happen... we should go a lot further.

The BMA points out that even if current targets on organ donation are met, people will still be dying for want of healthy organs. Meantime, every day we are throwing away or burning just such organs because potential donors (now dead) didn't find time or never had the inclination to register as willing to put their bits to use once they're gone. This is serious because whilst more than 7,600 people in the UK are on the waiting list for an organ transplant, only around 3,700 organs were transplanted last year.

An opt-out system would still allow those too selfish to offer up their organs once they are dead to take them to the grave with the rest of their useless corpse. In my opinion, sure, allow people to opt out of donating their organs at death, but the price of that should be that if they ever need an organ transplant beforehand they go straight to the back of the queue.

Objecting to donate organs once dead but still expecting to receive one if in need is a little like using the NHS but refusing to pay for it. This still protects a person's right not to help their fellow human beings once they have died, should they so choose, but it ensures they pay a price for their self-centredness.

I think sometimes our politicians pander to those who raise a so-called moral objection. Why the need to tread carefully on this issue? Put bluntly, choosing not to donate is choosing to allow people needlessly to die. I know some people enjoy nuance, but as far as I see it this is a black and white issue.

Some may point to religious objections, but as is confirmed by NHS Blood and Transplant, all the UK's major religions support the principles of organ donation and transplantation, and accept that it is an individual choice.

Of course people who are medically unsuitable to donate for whatever reason should have a waiver as they are not choosing to withhold a perfectly healthy heart or kidney from someone who needs it. But everyone else faces a choice: let your body be raided once you are done with it so that as many people as possible can be saved, or object but pay the price of being the lowest priority for a donation should you need it.

If you want to register yourself as an organ donor then you can do that online.