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United Kingdom Government Power

Organs of UK Nuclear Workers Secretly Harvested; Energy Secretary Apologizes 309

Posted by timothy
from the surplus-to-requirements dept.
fernlyn writes with word of a report detailing a decades-long practice of clandestine post-mortem organ removal from the bodies of dozens of workers in the UK's nuclear energy industry; Britain's Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has apologized to the families of those workers whose organs were taken without consent or even acknowledgement. Many of the organs taken were removed without any apparent forensic purpose in mind. Surviving relatives are understandably upset with what they see as cavalier treatment of their loved ones' bodies (even beyond unauthorized organ removal), such as the replacement of bones with lengths of broomstick.
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Organs of UK Nuclear Workers Secretly Harvested; Energy Secretary Apologizes

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  • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @07:03AM (#34252630) Journal

    Anyone who has been remotely connected with the British civil service will understand that, unlike even the United States in an increasingly dwindling number of areas, there is no real sense of government serving the people. The government exists to manage the unwashed masses and knows what is good for you, even while every individual understands that the government is really serving itself. This notion of nanny leadership is even woven into the undergraduate experience at Oxford, where the nation's managers are bred (and probably Cambridge too): if you have any sense of egalitarianism, it is repulsive but difficult to ignore.

    • There is no sense. Since Spitting image went off the air politicians here have had basically a get out of jail free card for everything short of killing babies.

      They have a sense of entitlement to their jobs and half of them have never spent more than a couple of hours in any area they're supposed to represent, instead just jump on top of the latest news story and hope to ride it as far as possible.

      • by digitig (1056110)

        There is no sense. Since Spitting image went off the air politicians here have had basically a get out of jail free card for everything short of killing babies.

        Bremner, Bird and Fortune covered a lot of the same territory as Spitting Image, but in a different way. And Private Eye does the job very well in the print medium.

    • by IBBoard (1128019) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @07:30AM (#34252742) Homepage

      UK gov "sorry" = UK gov "we got caught"

      Let me correct that for you: "gov "sorry" = gov "we got caught".

      Wherever you are, the government is only sorry when it gets caught. If it is cheaper or has some other benefit and doesn't get caught then they don't care. Such is the way of politics.

      • There are some who would say that government is a sorry mess whether it is caught or not.
        • by IBBoard (1128019)

          Whether it is a mess or not is, however, a separate issue from whether it has a feeling of remorse for its actions (or at least pretends to feel remorse for the sake of public image) ;)

    • Maybe it's time for your country to get an actual written constitution?
    • by Dominic (3849)

      "Anyone who has been remotely connected with the British civil service..." Really? I work in it, and I disagree with you. People who generalise are always making this sort of mistake!

  • Witch bones (Score:4, Funny)

    by sa1lnr (669048) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @07:11AM (#34252656)

    were replaced with lengths of broomstick?

  • Two sides (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It's one thing to not care what happens to your own body after death or to not hold any religious dogma to ones demise, it's another thing entirely to not respect anothers religious beliefs or desires. I often read how Christians and other religions are full of zealots that push their beliefs on others but I see just as many Atheists call them idiots for believing such things. Basically, I see the same pushing and forcing from both sides and it's disrespect regardless from which camp it comes from. I believ

  • by mrjb (547783) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @07:52AM (#34252816)
    Organs and bones are harvested (and bones replaced by lengths of broomstick or pvc pipe). Due care is taken for these organs and they're being used to save lives, which is arguably better than just throwing them away.

    The dark side of the whole thing is that a corpse is worth roughly GBP 200k-300k in spare parts, so ethics are out of the window and organs are harvested without the consent of the deceased nor those who stayed behind.

    As usual, money is the driving factor here, so there is something you can do to stop this practice if you have objections to it: Sign up as organ donor. If there are enough organ donors, the law of supply and demand will take care of the rest and make sure this practice is no longer profitable, so it will cease to exist.
    • by ComaVN (325750) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:03AM (#34252864)

      So to prevent people from illegaly using my dead body as an organ buffet, I have to register to let people legally use my dead body as an organ buffet?

      Nice one.

      • by delinear (991444)
        Well not necessarily. The alternative is we make the system opt-out instead of opt-in - have a system where everyone's organs can be used unless they expressly request otherwise. At the moment most organs go to waste not because people care one way or the other about what happens to them after death, but because they're too apathetic to go register, or they can't be bothered because there's nothing really in it for them, or perhaps they've even just never thought about it. Switch the system and those who ca
      • by Hatta (162192)

        Sounds fine to me. This minimizes the possibility that your organs go to waste, which is a good thing. Anyone who would withhold functioning organs from people who need them is worse than those taking the organs illegally.

    • "If there are enough organ donors, the law of supply and demand will take care of the rest and make sure this practice is no longer profitable, so it will cease to exist." Yes, curing the problem, always much better than preventing it.
    • by khchung (462899)

      Due care is taken for these organs and they're being used to save lives, which is arguably better than just throwing them away. ... ... The dark side of the whole thing is that a corpse is worth roughly GBP 200k-300k in spare parts, so ethics are out of the window ... ... As usual, money is the driving factor here ... ... If there are enough organ donors, the law of supply and demand will take care of the rest and make sure this practice is no longer profitable, so it will cease to exist.

      Wow, the kind of apologist attitude here is amazing, as if the whole thing is just some people *doing good* while making some money along the way, and the real bad guys are those selfish people unwilling to donate organs in the first place, cuz they are throwing away perfectly good organs!

      Look, if you replace "UK" with "China" in the summary, you will be see TONS of ridicules and flames about how bad China is, how greedy and immoral Chinese generally are, the general unhealthiness of the organs harvested, e

    • by drsmithy (35869)

      As usual, money is the driving factor here, so there is something you can do to stop this practice if you have objections to it: Sign up as organ donor. If there are enough organ donors, the law of supply and demand will take care of the rest and make sure this practice is no longer profitable, so it will cease to exist.

      Even better, lobby for laws making organ donation opt-out, rather than opt-in.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Can't I register for my body to be put up as "commercial" organ donor and have the profit going to relatives or some charity?

  • by pinkushun (1467193) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:00AM (#34252856) Journal

    The summary makes us think that "Many of the organs taken were removed without any apparent forensic purpose in mind."; In fact, "The organs were examined at Sellafield as part of research into the health effects of work in the industry"

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:00AM (#34252858) Homepage

    As much as it was a cabal of ghoulish bodysnatchers with God complexes who thought they were above the law. You know, typical medics. 99.5% of them give the rest a bad name.

    And I re-iterate my position: if criminal acts were performed, individuals should be prosecuted. If the relatives are going to sue anyone for anything (what? emotional distress?) then it should be the individuals, not the State. The State doesn't care if it has to rob Peter a bit more to hush up Paul.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:01AM (#34252860)

    From TFA:

    Ironically, had they been properly informed some would have agreed to the removal and analysis of the organs.

    I would say yes, iIf someone asked me: "We think that staring at a computer screen reading Slashdot all day might be unhealthy. Would you mind if we grab a few of your organs when you die? This might lead us to better protection for Slashdot readers in the future." Harvesting organs without permission is just plain rude, crude and uncalled for. It's just not cricket; whatever happened to the image of the polite English gentleman?

    Maybe they didn't ask because they were afraid that it would scare workers away, because of health safety concerns? But if the UK nuclear industry had doubts about health safety, the workers should have been informed about that, as well.

    What other shenanigans are going on, which haven't been discovered yet . . . ?

    • Percieved danger and actual danger are very different things - as anyone who has seen a concerned parent worrying their child will be abducted off the street should realise. Death by radiation poisoning is an interesting way to die, which means people will worry about it happening even of the risk is only one in ten million. Boring deaths just don't get the same attention.
  • by houghi (78078) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:45AM (#34253040)

    Nice use of the word 'harvesting' to set the mood.

    Unless specified otherwise, in Belgium each person is a donor of his body parts after he or she dies.
    Next of kin do not have to be forewarned that some or even all of the body is used as donor, but sometimes are.

    So all bodies are 'harvested' by default.

    I personally do not care what happens to my body after I died. It's not my problem anymore. Let people who care at that moment do whatever they feel will help them to mourn or celebrate.

    I do like the 'harvest by default' idea, as long as it easy to opt out AND if opting out would mean that you would opt out of receiving any donor organ as well. You will NOT be placed on any list. This would give people who ARE willing to be donor a better chance of receiving in case of need.

    • by Haedrian (1676506)
      "This would give people who ARE willing to be donor a better chance of receiving in case of need"

      Then you'd end up with people having livers with "Only two careful owners".

      Joking aside, I fully agree with everything you said. If you're offering a chance at life to someone, then you should be given the same in return.
  • The duality of law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @08:45AM (#34253046)

    When did we start excusing governments and other authority figures from law? The US president is ordered to hand over emails, and he apologizes and "loses" them. The Catholic church is accused of covering up years of sexual child abuse, and the Pope apologizes. The British government steals organs and desecrates corpses, and someone apologizes.

    How about giving these people the same consequences as if it was one of us "normal" people doing these acts? Are you trying to imply that we wouldn't have the full weight of the law fall on us? Are you saying we could get away with just saying "I'm sorry?". This has to stop, it's the path to despotism.

    • "When did we start excusing governments and other authority figures from law?"

      The exact moment people stopped doing anything about it. Now the government just distracts them with other petty endeavors or counts on the fact that most drones care more about doing their little activities than they do freedom or privacy, leaving people who actually would do something if the opportunity presented itself outnumbered.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Indeed. Someone needs to go to prison for this.
    • We're sorry... Soooo. Sorrry...

      At BP we're committed to environmental protection. That's why we're drilling even deeper than before, right to the bowels of hell to release Cuthulu.

  • The term harvesting when applied to organs usually refers to them being transplanted into other people (who may be paying for them) However this does not seem to be the case here. If you needed a new organ, would you want one that used to be in a nuclear plant worker?

  • no they found out about the nuclear Frankenstein that was being made.

  • ...how chianti sales are going in the UK

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