I’ve carried an organ donor card for decades, ever since I was a student. I found that piece of paper in the entrance hall of some official building, filled it out, and put it into my wallet, feeling that it was the right thing to do. But I have never lobbied others to do likewise, even though just 14 to 17 percent of Germans are donors, while – paradoxically – around 60 percent of people say they think its a good idea, according to a Deutsche Welle article of June, 2008.
Donating your organs is voluntary in Germany, and it’s one of the issues about which I have no clear-cut opinion. For sure, organ donation shouldn’t be mandatory. To be a donor seems to require some kind of trust in other people (medics who conduct transplants, for example, and who are faced with people who want to live, but may have to die, because there is no organ for them within reach). Trust doesn’t go without saying. There’s no obligation to trust. There may be no way to trust, and there may still be many other individual reasons to dislike the concept. But maybe it would be a good idea to have reluctant people carry a paper that states that they do not want to donate organs when they die. Maybe.
The strangest thing about the issue would be the discrepancy between liking the idea, but not making it happen – if the statistic quoted by Deutsche Welle is accurate.
Claudia Kotter, a organ-donation activist, died in Berlin on Tuesday. She had suffered from a rare immune deficiency disease. In her late years – she only became thirty years old -, she lived with someone else’s lung. She didn’t advocate mandatory organ donation. “A disease is no license to blackmail others”, she said.
But she and the association she founded, “Young Heroes” (Junge Helden) would talk to people, grown-ups and schoolkids alike. Frequently, they threw parties to promote organ donation. “There is no ‘later’ and no ‘some day’. Life is now.”
» Junge Helden website