Tuesday 2 August 2011

A reasonable nudge

I've two main worries about nudges. They're often a fair bit more coercive than the word "nudge" suggests; and, if they fail to yield the planners' desired outcomes, they may only be harbingers of more forceful interventions.

But this one seems exceptionally mild: drivers in the UK are required to tick either Yes or No in the box indicating whether they'd agree to be organ donors when getting their drivers' licences renewed. The story says similar moves in Illinois did wonders for donor enrolment.

I don't think a similar move in New Zealand would do much absent legislative changes requiring that organ transplant units deem licence enrolment constitute informed consent. From the NZTA FAQ:

Your driver licence is not informed consent

If you've indicated on your driver licence that you wish to be a donor, this does not count as 'informed consent' for your organs and tissues to be retrieved for transplant purposes in the event of your death.
If a person gives 'informed consent', this means that they have enough information to fully understand what they agree to, and that their agreement is given willingly. It's very difficult to prove the circumstances or level of knowledge a person had at the time of making their licence application.

Discuss your decision with your family

Ticking the 'Yes' box on your driver licence form only means that you have indicated your wish to be identified as an organ and tissue donor. It does not automatically mean that your organs or tissues will be donated in the event of your death. In practice, your family will always be asked for their agreement to organ and tissue donation.
If your family knows what your wishes are in regard to donation, they will be more likely to follow them through in the event of your death. Having your wishes displayed on your driver licence is just one way of making them known to your family. You should also discuss your decision with them.
If you would like to donate certain organs or tissues but not others, make sure that you discuss this with your family, too.
A "No" effectively counts as informed consent; a "Yes" doesn't. Great system.

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