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The Glass Box for Tuesday

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Eddie Mair | 16:20 UK time, Tuesday, 17 July 2007

The Glass Box is the place where you can comment on what you heard on PM. Did we get the right lead story? Were the interviews terrible, or the reporting bad? Or was it all great?

Just click on the "comment" link.

If you want to post a comment about something that is on your mind but was not on the programme - use the link on the right to The Furrowed Brow. Also on the right, you'll find FAQ: try it. And why not visit The Beach?


  1. At 04:56 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Andy Williamson wrote:

    So organ donation is back in the news.

    My story has moved on since appearing on your programme a few weeks ago ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/pm/2007/05/this_is_andy_who_was_on_the_sh.shtml ) a great friend has passed all the tests, and we go into hospital on 6 August for a living donor transplant.

    I agree with Liam Donaldson that ‘opt out’ and presumed consent would be better than what we have now. However, I can also see the great confusion, and suspicion which surrounds this issue.

    I have an alternative suggestion – specifically for kidney donation. The need for this is only going to increase, as since 2006 GPs routinely test kidney function as part of their government targets.

    The state should pay living donors a significant sum (perhaps several thousand pounds), to encourage people to consider it. It should be large enough to be meaningful, but not so large as to be seen as the last resort and the only way someone could lay their hands on a lump sum of money. A significant part of the motivation must be to want to give something freely. Employers should be obliged to allow employees time off for this.

    The risks to such donors are very small – the same as any operation. The chance of success for the recipient is very high – upwards of 97%.

    People often cite one reason for being unwilling to donate as needing to keep their own organs in case one of their children one day requires a transplant.

    If a register of such willing donors existed – it would be possible to match everyone who needs a kidney with the most suitable possible donor. The better a match, the fewer anti-rejection drugs will be needed (these are also expensive, and have bad side effects).

    If all 7000 people in the UK who now need one received a transplant, the net saving to the NHS would be an ongoing £150 million PER YEAR.

    In my interview with Eddie, I failed to convey how big a difference having a transplant should make to my life. It promises to be enormous!

  2. At 05:10 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Gillian wrote:

    Andy (1) Congratulations - thanks for giving us your news. Very best wishes to you and your wonderful friend. Please let us know how you both get on.

    I am in favour of any part of me being taken for any medical reason - tranplant, research, or whatever- if any of it is in a good enough state after a lifetime of good living :o)

  3. At 05:23 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Anil wrote:

    If 80 happy chappies are expelled from Moscow. How will Miliband the school boy respond

    If the Russians are smart. Expel all except the Ambassador sitting alone with no staff. That will be a hoot. Not even a secretary or a PA. No nothing. Zero support

    He will have to make his own tea and hoover the place and clean the toilets

    Miliband has picked up a fight he cannot win. I agree with the Times comment "Britain picks a fight it cannot win"

    What moron Miliband is.

    So there you are. We have a school boy as FS.

  4. At 05:24 PM on 17 Jul 2007, ken wrote:

    Lots on the radio today about organ donation but I haven't heard anyone point out that it's actually incredibly easy to register as a donor.

    Just go to https://www.uktransplant.org.uk/ukt/ and spend 2 minutes filling in your details.

  5. At 05:34 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Chris Whitehead wrote:

    Organ donation needs much more positive advertising. i.e. a well known footballer had streets named after him, yet all he did was abuse the chances given him. Better give newspaper space to good positive publicity. I'm a recepient myself of a liver and I do all I can to help promote donor cards. A system where people have to opt out would be better. Afetr all what use is an organ when you've gone. I'm celebrating my 10th anniversary on the 3rd of October. and I'm gratefull.

  6. At 05:36 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    I hope Eddie's busy striking that medal for Gorgeous George.

    It was very sedate, by the way, but you did keep (politely) challenging him.

  7. At 05:40 PM on 17 Jul 2007, colin braddock wrote:

    How are those who wish to opt out of being an organ donor to make this clear, have it tattood on the forehead? I undestand some organs require to be removed immediately after death is pronounced . If not a tattoo & some document is not included in ones personal effects what then?

  8. At 05:40 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Zorba Eisenhower wrote:

    Bob Marshall-Andrew retiring? In my experience he's never been retiring ;-)

  9. At 05:43 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Steve wrote:

    regarding the organ doner program:

    this requires a high degree of trust in the authorities.

    The highest person in the land (or next of kin therof) needs a spare part or they will die within 4 hours.

    me or mine arrives in hospital where the decision as to switch on or off has to be taken within 4 hours.

    there is a match:

    After the events in the DDR, I am wary.

  10. At 05:48 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Mike wrote:

    which BBC Radio 4 programmje would you say was the political opposite of the PM programme?

    Is there one?

    Why not?

    Do you all sit in the BBC canteen and agree just how superior you are to the plebs?

    Just wondered.

    btw, the reason I came here was to agree with the quote you read out today. I too am finding it really difficult to listen to your programme and the Today programme in the morning) such is the constant self righteous onslaught of a single political view. My dogs often run out of the room such is my rage at the things (particularly the energy business of which I have some knowledge) I daily hear you state that are simply untrue and can be checked and seen as such in less than 60 seconds on the internet !

    After supporting it all my life I think the BBC has become someting negative for the UK

  11. At 05:51 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Tobias Kaye wrote:

    There has been one glaring absence in the whole organ transplant discussion. an issue whose absence colours the whole debate. I suspect this issue has been excluded because it is not considered scientifically respectable, this in spite of numerous books, magazine and newspaper articles on particular case histories.
    The issue is that of tissue memory. this phenomena arises particularly but not exclusively with heart and lung transplants and leads to the recipient having memories arise that seem, sometimes very clearly to refer to the life of the organ donor.
    This is by no means a universal experience but is for some so strong that they feel as though they are living quite intimately with another person.
    That this issue is not mentioned on your program at all suggest a degree of suppression as it is a highly interesting phenomenon, pointing as it does to an area ripe for research and of which we presently understand almost nothing.
    The experience of organ memory is no longer uncommon and to pretend, by not mentioning it that this human experience is "unscientific" is to mislead those at whom the discussion is aimed.
    If indeed there is some sort of tissue memory and our memories are not exclusively in the brain it throws a new light on the whole question of organ transplant.
    Is it right to consider our bodies like machines? to consider the parts as made to a universal design and simply transferable or is there more to it than that.
    Any discussion of any issue on PM should consider all the relevant facts and not exclude those which are inconvenient to the aims of those who want to raise the discussion.

  12. At 05:53 PM on 17 Jul 2007, heather birch wrote:

    i am surprised at the chief medical officer's comment about organ donation becoming compulsory unless there is a personal opt-out. why has he not made blood donation compulsory first? as i understand the process, any organ transplant requires greater than the usual surgical demand for the blood of the donee and donor, particularly in liver transplants. i believe the blood donation service is always short of donors. is there a mismatch of desire here?

  13. At 05:54 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Kath wrote:

    I find it a little worrying that the BBC is helping Litvinenko's killer by doing its best to escalate the media hysteria which was clearly the purpose of the murder.

  14. At 06:06 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Anil wrote:

    What about the Ahmed the Chechen Islamic terrorist we are giving safe heaven to. Oh I see he is a freedom fighter. OK if that is the case.

    Then Iraqi insurgents are also freedom fighters fighting an illegal occupying force. You reap what you sow

    Case closed

  15. At 06:06 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Richard Soar wrote:

    When I was in Iraq in 2005 I received a text message from the Director of Public Health offering his condolences for those killed in the July 7th bombing; before I had a chance to thank him, I learned that his sister had just been killed in a bomb explosion in Baghdad. I was able only to send a few words from the Koran with my commiserations.

    It is more than a little ironic that politicians like George Galloway today and Menzies Campbell recently, continue to identify with the bombers in the way they describe our occupation of Iraq, rather than with the gentle and generous people of Iraq who, like us, are their victims of the 'swine' who have assumed the mantle of Saddam Hussein.

  16. At 06:08 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Judith Vickers wrote:

    I was very lucky to work on a study for a new drug used to prevent rejection after transplantation in the 90's. It was one of the most positive experiences of my life, watching the tragedy of the donor’s death being transferred into the life given to the recipient. These were people going back to work and school, and in the case of two going on to have their own children during the 3 years I was part of the study.

    Both my husband and I are registered donors and we would not hesitate to suggest donation in the event of our two children’s death. Despite our wishes, my in-laws have stated that in the event they are asked as our next of kin for permission to remove our organs they will refuse and there is nothing we can to prevent it.

    For those of us in good health this is the one incomparable gift we can give to another human being. Having lost close family members I personally feel the grief I felt at their lost would have been lessen if it helped some one to truly live again.

    The opt-out is the way forward and I hope to see it place before a member of my family ever needs to join a transplant list.

  17. At 06:08 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Claire Higgins wrote:

    After listening to the program and further reports in the news, I feel compelled to comment! Some years ago I was taken seriously ill and hospitalised in an emergency. The issue of donating my organs did not even enter my mind....only survival did! Therefore, I still believe that using the principle of assuming that the person does not wish to donate, before approaching the family/ next of kin through the appropriate legal channels, is still the way to go...especially if they have not yet made a decision.

  18. At 06:12 PM on 17 Jul 2007, tony ferney wrote:

    Mike (10) seems very "single-minded" - and I don't mean that as a compliment. I too am reasonably well-versed in energy matters and I have failed to detect the bias he alleges. Perhaps he was listening with a single ear.

    As a matter of fact I found tonight's programme particularly well-balanced - the mix on the Anglo-Russian dispute being a prime example - and devoid of any self-righteousness.

    Just to rub it in, Mike, I feel the same way about the "Today" programme and am glad that these two areas of sanity exist in a world not always known for that quality.

  19. At 06:31 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Anil wrote:

    Mr Soar so who is the 'swine' who have assumed the mantle of Saddam Hussein?

    and thus you said "I was able only to send a few words from the Koran with my commiserations".

    Oh dear me the word swine and Koran in the same missive. Thats a bit ironic

    Galloway was right about the Iraq war. If it had not happened, Director of Public Health's sister would be alive today.

  20. At 06:46 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Electric Dragon wrote:

    Tobias, what do you mean by "no longer uncommon"? Please cite studies, published and peer-reviewed in reputable journals, to back up such claims. The Fortean Times does not count as a reputable journal. Stories or anecdotes such as "I felt his/her/its presence" do not count either.

  21. At 06:52 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Anil wrote:

    Why not steal our kidneys, hearts & lungs from dead Iraqis after all we are responsible for the mess.

    Yes Sir!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! steal the oil (remember the oil exports are not metered. The Hilli billi neo-cons convienently forgot to put in the meters). So we are sort of thieves by association

    So we can steal their organs. Why not

  22. At 06:57 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Peej wrote:

    Can't help feeling that the programme would have benefited from the inclusion of an item on regional assemblies...........

  23. At 07:10 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Marios Patrinos wrote:

    One of the most interesting radio programmes I've ever heard.

    A great way to get news on the way home. The reports mainly seem balanced to me and Eddie always asks difficult questions and presses for an answer without resorting to Paxmanism. Perhaps though some of the "pink elephants" could be asked too.

    The reports today about Athens and organ donors were great juxtaposition for one programme. Serious news rather than hyperbolic tittle-tat.

    Proud to be paying the licence fee for this and other BBC radio programmes.

  24. At 07:18 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Richard Soar wrote:

    Anil has missed the point, sadly. I am happy to use the term 'swine' to describe the bombers who kill the innocent since I believe them to be outside of the reach of the Koran. (If I am to believe that it is the book of peace, not violence).

    His belief that it is legitimate for these porcine bombers to kill the sisters of Iraqis who are appreciative of the help that the British have been able to offer the South of Iraq, is I fear, characteristic of the 'sub-humane' attitude of the ill-informed.

  25. At 07:25 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Caddi wrote:

    Sadly, Ken, the link on the organ donation site does not work!

  26. At 08:04 PM on 17 Jul 2007, mittfh wrote:

    Unfortunately, one of the main problems with religion isn't the founders, or even the authors of the relevant texts, but with leaders down the ages, who misinterpret (sometimes deliberately) the text to suit their own ends.

    Take Christianity - the founder's message was very clear: everyone's welcome, especially societal outcasts. How often do you hear priests proclaiming that message? How often do you hear them proclaiming the opposite?
    A classic example is in the commandment "Love your neighbour as yourself". By his time, neighbour was widely interpreted as a member of your family / community. A certain parable challenged that assumption, yet many Christian leaders still ignore the message.

  27. At 08:25 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Sarah Wright wrote:

    Just wanted to say what a wonderful job Eddie Mair does on PM . Eddie ,you are a true professional.Thank you.

  28. At 09:09 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Paul wrote:

    Again we hear George Galloway using others (Iraqi's) to cover his own selfish agenda.

    I remember watching footage of Mr Galloway on his meeting with Saddam Hussein's son Uda. Mr Galloway was fawning, 'excellency, excellency'. His platitudes were strange to say the least. Well, at least John Humphries rolls George Galloway out as an expert on the Middle East.

    As for the deaths in Iraq. If Muslims refrained from murdering their brother Muslims there would be no deaths. Ah! But I forgot there are many excuses why indeed they should be murdering each other (America, Israel, our foreign policy) I say those things tongue in cheek.

  29. At 09:29 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Ruth wrote:

    Sarah (27) Can you expand on that?
    Kind regards

  30. At 09:55 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Anil wrote:

    Richard so how did the porcine bombers manifest themselves?

    Under Saddam there was not a single suicide bombing. It is the easiest weapon to use yet even under Saddam who was despised his populace these porcine methods were not used.

    Now its become the norm. Why?

    So Coalition of the willing must take full responsibility for the manifestation of these porcine bombers who may pay us a visit one day that will make 7/7 look like a sunday picnic

    What you failed to answer is - was Galloway right about the Iraq war. If it had not happened, Director of Public Health's sister would be alive today? Yes or No

    You suggest "sisters of Iraqis who are appreciative of the help that the British have been able to offer the South of Iraq"

    I disagree. Do you know how many Iraqi children have died of various cancers due to the depleted uranium we have showered on Iraq. Please go and find out. Let me guide you with a link


    Basra Children's Hospital is still not functional and the "British" has made made NO effort to help with this project.

    I am ashamed to be a British Citizen when I look at the way we have destroyed a country that did NOT attack us.

  31. At 10:55 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Pauline wrote:

    I wonder how many people agree with my feelings about organ donation - no-one seems to have made this point yet. I am for the opt out system of donation - a dead person no longer needs their body. I would like to donate but feel carrying a donor card is "tempting fate" - and like a constant reminder of your own mortality.

  32. At 11:08 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Fred Litten wrote:

    Given my lifestyle over the last 63 years I doubt that any of my parts will be recyclable. Nevertheless I am horrified at the proposted confiscation of my organs by the state unless I take measures to ensure it can't. My main objection is that such items might go to people I abhor, a situation I would have no control over after death. The names of certain politicians come to mind.

  33. At 11:20 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Clever Ruth! ;-) (29)

    Mike (10),

    "such is the constant self righteous onslaught of a single political view. My dogs often run out of the room such is my rage at the things (particularly the energy business of which I have some knowledge) I daily hear you state that are simply untrue and can be checked and seen as such in less than 60 seconds on the internet !"

    If you know these truths and can confirm them on the internet, then perhaps you could cite some specific examples instead of the non-specific nonsense above.

    Chapter and verse, please. I also have some knowledge on energy matters.


  34. At 11:42 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Duncan wrote:

    Why not combine two events that only happen after we die.

    Waive inheritence tax for people who voluntarily donate their organs.

  35. At 11:52 PM on 17 Jul 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Eddie and colleagues,

    I thought the interview with GG was well done. As usual, he was good value.

    All in all an excellent edition of PM. It was perhaps a wee bit naughty using a feminine voice to read out Paul's comment, though. ;-)

    Yours Aye,

  36. At 01:12 AM on 18 Jul 2007, Andy Williamson wrote:

    Pauline (31) - no need to actually carry a card, just sign up to the register here - http://www.uktransplant.org.uk/signup - then have a conversation with your nearest and rearest so they know your wishes, then forget about it.

    Colin (7) - it's inconceivable that anyone's organs would be taken after death before knowing their identity, which would then be checked against the opt out register. The number of people who die in such a

  37. At 01:18 AM on 18 Jul 2007, Andy Williamson wrote:

    Pauline (31) - no need to actually carry a card, just sign up to the register here - http://www.uktransplant.org.uk/signup - then have a conversation with your nearest and rearest so they know your wishes, then forget about it.

    Colin (7) - it's inconceivable that anyone's organs would be taken after death before knowing their identity, which would then be checked against the opt out register. The number of people who die in such a way that their organs can be used is actually quite small - it has to be under supervision in a hospital. No tattoo required!

    Steve (9) - I have seen enough of hospitals in the past year to be pretty sure that your scenario would never happen in the UK. The number of people who would have to go along with it, and then be trusted to keep it secret, is simply too high.

  38. At 08:10 AM on 18 Jul 2007, Paul wrote:

    I am all in favour of presumed consent. I would have thought the problem with the current system is that voluntary donation can be overridden on death by next of kin. However, I fear that any religious argument for example, that we de-value our bodies by presumed consent might feed into the deeply superstitious creature that we are as suggested by Pauline (31).

  39. At 08:16 AM on 18 Jul 2007, Paul wrote:

    Ed. Just a few words to add to your vocabulary

    Corporate blog
    Who let in the Troll
    bias by omission
    Institutional bias

    All these words are taken from Peter North's recent entries.

  40. At 08:52 AM on 18 Jul 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    I found the Serbia report and the GG interview had an interesting link.

    First, though, I cannot imagine why Serbia would want to join the EU. The only good thing Britain ever got out of the EU is the Working Time Directive, and even that has an opt-out clause for those who want to "Volunteer" to work long hours.

    Now, the EU doesn't want to let Serbia join because that country is "Harbouring war criminals". According to George Galloway, the UK is doing the same. Why isn't the EU threatening to expel us (I wish) until we give up Mr. Blair to face a War Crimes Tribunal?

  41. At 10:29 AM on 18 Jul 2007, Jean wrote:

    I would like to raise a point regarding registering for organ donation. When a person registers with at a new medical practice, they complete a GMS1 registration form which has on the back an opportunity to register as an organ donor. At least half of new patients complete this, and assume their name goes onto the register.

    These forms are no longer sent to the local PCT since patients' details are registered on a computer database and submitted electronically to the PCT.(this has been the case at the majority of practices for at least 6 years) There is no question regarding organ donation on the electronic registration!

    The form is the filed in a cupboard and eventually archived and destroyed !!!

    What a waste of potential donors !!

    I feel sure the oprgan register would swell if all these donors were added to the list.

    I have worked in general practice and know this is this case. Can someone please look into this !!

  42. At 10:35 AM on 18 Jul 2007, witchiwoman wrote:

    Andy Williamson - just wanted to wish you all the best and do keep us posted. Theres always a lounger for you on the Beach!

  43. At 11:29 AM on 18 Jul 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Paul (39),

    More your sort of vocabulary than mine.

    Mine would include

    Unsubstantiated slur,
    Chapter and verse,
    Well researched,
    Rational debate,
    Disastrous foreign policy,


    A golden Oldie:

    XXIII. We must not again allow public emotion or the public media to
    caricature our enemies. If our enemies are now to be some nations of Islam, then we should undertake to know those enemies. Our schools
    should begin to teach the histories, cultures, arts, and language of the Islamic nations. And our leaders should have the humility and the wisdom
    to ask the reasons some of those people have for hating us.
    Wendell Berry, "Thoughts in the Presence of Fear, 2001

  44. At 12:45 PM on 18 Jul 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Paul (44),

    Huh? Please substantiate. How predictable from you, I might add

    Salaam, etc.

  45. At 12:46 PM on 18 Jul 2007, Paul wrote:

    Ed. See you can give it, but not take it. How predictable.

  46. At 12:59 PM on 18 Jul 2007, Phil Rogers wrote:

    So after years of the government wanting their pound of flesh, they now want....

    ...several pounds of flesh (or organs at least)

  47. At 02:10 PM on 18 Jul 2007, Tuppence wrote:

    I noticed in the item about the gap between the rich and the poor last night, the old phrase 'below the poverty line' was used yet again.

    Does anyone know exactly where this line rests? I have little to get excited about in my live, but knowing my proper place would be interesting.

    Having a short lunch hour, I may not be able to check for an answer until tomorrow - see you all then.


  48. At 05:44 PM on 18 Jul 2007, Ian Morgan wrote:

    We shouldn't be surprised at the BBC fabricating competition entries. After all Drama, of which we see so much is all acting isn't it - fabrication in other words.

    Nature programmes have been fabricated for years. My tutor at University presented radio and TV shows and once gave us the 'real' commentary on some footage. That insect creeping along the forest floor could just as well be in a glass tank in the producers lounge as in the great outdoors.

    I suspect presentation has a habit of coming before content.

    You don't believe all you read in the newspapers, why is TV and radio any different.

  49. At 06:24 PM on 18 Jul 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    A note on bias, etc. from today's inbox:

    We usually see only the things we are looking for- so much so that we sometimes see them where they are not.

    -Eric Hoffer,
    _The Passionate State of Mind_

    xx to all

  50. At 09:38 PM on 18 Jul 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Tuppence (47) There is no single, official defintion of poverty, and there exist differing official methods of measurement. Off the top of my head the only one I can remember is that used by the EU, which is 60% of average (median) income or below, unless I'm out of date now. But there are swathes of academic literature on poverty and were one draws the 'poverty line' is ultimately dependent upon ones political leanings.

  51. At 05:05 PM on 19 Jul 2007, Joseph O'Kelly wrote:

    It is fantastic news to hear that Andy Williamson has met his kidney donor
    Andy is well known in music circles for sometimes having dialysis while
    he plays his sax. I took some photos of Andy and others some weeks ago.
    Some were waiting for a donor; some had given; and some had
    I have webbed the pictures at: www.hibla.com/Pleasance/index.htm
    All the best

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