I once heard an anecdote about a man who, when he dies, wanted to be buried with his expensive car. People close to him were confused by this – they couldn’t understand why he wanted something so valuable to be buried with him, as he wouldn’t be using it anyway. But the man’s response, I thought, was pretty eye opening. He said that when most people die, they take with them things far more valuable than a car. They take their organs. Organs that could have saved someone’s life.
I’m not sure how true this story is, but it was extremely thought provoking. There are so many people in need of a transplant, who will die prematurely without one. So should everyone be automatically placed on the organ donor register and have the choice to opt out? Or is it better to let individuals decide for themselves if they want to opt in?
Organ donation has been a very high profile issue recently. Just yesterday, MPs backed a bill in Westminster which would change the law on organ donation in England. If successful, people in England would automatically become organ donors but could choose to opt out of this. Scotland is also looking into introducing this while Wales already has it in place. It is, however, a highly contentious issue.
So what are the main arguments both in favour of and in opposition of the opt out system?
Arguments in favour:
- According to the NHS in England, around 500 people die each year as there are not enough suitable organ donors. Hundreds of people are losing their lives every year, which could be prevented, or at least reduced, if there were more organ donors.
- More than 6500 people in the UK are waiting for a transplant but only 3500 transplants take place per year due to the lack of donors. Even if some of those people eventually do get the organs they need, their quality of life is likely to be compromised while they wait.
- Many who oppose the opt out system may argue that the uncertainty of what a person would have wanted after death could be upsetting for their family. As a person can die suddenly at any time, they may not have opted out, even if that was their intention.
- Another argument against the proposal is that it’s not up to the state to make someone an organ donor, even if they can go through the process of opting out. Organ donation is something individuals should be able to consider for themselves and choose to opt in should they wish to do so.
In my own opinion, the opt out system could be hugely beneficial to so many people. There are thousands of people whose lives have been put on hold while they wait for a transplant. Many of those people have a lesser quality of life while many others will sadly lose theirs. So why should organs be buried or cremated if they can be used to save a human being’s life, or greatly improve their life’s quality? As an organ donor myself, I strongly believe that, in time, the proposal could help so many people who need it.
I remember when I was six, when I still lived in South-East England, I went to visit my grandparents in Aberdeenshire. I became shy at dinner time and started to cry. My grandmother told me it was ok and made me feel better.
I remember when I was 10, when I had to move to Scotland from the place I always called home, my grandmother helped us throughout the process.
I remember when I was 11, I had just returned from a school trip, with one of my friends having straightened my hair for the first time. My grandmother asked me if I liked my hair like that (to which I replied ‘yes’). She got me my first hair straighteners for my birthday that year.
I remember my 20-year-old self in February of this year sitting in my grandmother’s living room when she told me she would help me with going to Brussels for Erasmus.
I also remember a few weeks ago when I got some sad news. My grandmother has dementia. She had to move into a care home. And what got to me the most was that after all she’d done to help me, I couldn’t be there to help her. After all, I’m in a completely different country.
But what my grandmother did to help me come to Brussels – and everything else – I will always be grateful for. I have had, and will continue to have, the greatest time ever. And I suppose that’s one of the best ways to say thank-you – by making the best of it while I’m here.
You never do fully understand something until it affects someone you know. You hear about all the statistics and everything but it means nothing if it isn’t personal. You realise just how quickly a person can change. But, at least the way I see it, the best thing to do is to always think about all of the great things about a person, because that’s the most accurate portrayal of them.
I know of many women who don’t want to have children. But I wonder how many of those women have been told “you’ll change your mind” or “you’ll see it differently when you’re older”. Because I reckon that number is pretty high. Who do people really think they are though, just assuming something like that when they’ve explicitly just been told the opposite? It’s like they know the woman’s mind better than she knows it herself. And those responses to women not wanting children, in my opinion, really need to change.
I’ve known for quite a while that I don’t want to have children. It’s not that I don’t like them – because I do – but I’ve never seen myself as being particularly maternal. Even with the children I already know, however nice or cute they may be, I’m always glad to know that I can hand them back.
But whenever I point that out to people, I’m often met with the same response. “You’ll change your mind when you’re older” is a classic. And that irritates me. I really don’t care about whether or not someone else changed their mind about having children or about any societal expectations of me as a woman. If I say I don’t want children, I mean I do not want to have any children.
One thing that surprised me, though, was who typically responded in that way. Because it was actually women themselves. I found it a bit ironic that the very people who should understand that a woman might not want to have children, didn’t. It’s like they forgot women can make their own decisions about family life. So I began to wonder if that type of attitude is merely a generational thing. It’s usually older women who presume I don’t know what I think about such a significant decision. Perhaps more women in the past actually did want to have their own children, which is why there is still that expectation today. Or maybe it’s just down to personal viewpoints: some individuals perhaps think all woman are maternal and will therefore want their own children at one point or another.
Either way, the point is this: if a woman doesn’t want to have children, she doesn’t have to. We all know our own minds and we can think for ourselves. And however young many of us may be, we can still know what we do and don’t want in our own futures. And no one has the right to assume otherwise.
At the end of the day, if a man said he didn’t want to become a parent, I’m pretty sure people would just accept that instead of making general assumptions that they one day will. So why should it be any different for women? The simple answer to that is: it absolutely should not be different. Because we are the ones who have to deal with the pregnancies as well as having the actual children. So if we tell you we do not want to have any children, do not turn around and tell us otherwise.
We’ve all had days we’d like to forget. We’ve made bad decisions or someone has pissed us off or whatever. There might not even be an identifiable reason for it. But whatever brings on a bad day, there are various ways we can cope with it. So these are a few of the things I do to deal with my own bad days.
- Rationalise the Situation
Putting things into perspective is one of the more effective methods I use. I consider everything that has happened and what will realistically happen in the worst case scenario. Having done that, I think about how I’d go on to deal with it. Things don’t seem to be quite as bad after that. But taking control of your thinking is far better than letting your mind scare you into thinking much worse will happen.
Putting all your thoughts on paper is a great way to get separate yourself from your worries. I love writing anyway so it’s brilliant for when I want to de-stress. It’s only psychological but tearing up the piece of paper you used to write about your worries can be a fantastic visual way to deal with everything.
Everyone’s heard this at one point or another. But it really can help. It’s not something I tend to do often but it can be good to actually hear your thoughts out loud. In a couple of my own experiences, talking about what is wrong has helped me to rationalise bad situations.
- Refer to past experiences
Everything that has happened in my past has worked out before – I always try to remember that. So there’s no reason why, if I handle them correctly, any other problems won’t. It also helps me to consider how I dealt with things in the past and use them to cope with what I have to now. Because they worked once before, right?
One of the only good things about the town in which I live is the beach. It’s a nice place to go for a walk to clear your head. I do this quite a lot and it really does work. It’s so calm (usually!) so it allows my mind to become ‘calmer’. The fresh air is brilliant when I need to mull things over in my head.
So these are the things that have helped me on my worst days. Some of them even go hand in hand. While they won’t always completely solve my problems, they at least go far in helping me to deal with them.