Health Policy

06.10.17

Organ donation opt-out ‘to save lives’ in England

Theresa May has pledged to move to an opt-out system for organ donation in England.

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, the prime minister explained that a move to presumed consent for organ donation will work towards saving more lives of those waiting for desperately needed organ transplants.

The announcement comes almost two years after Wales moved to a system of presumed consent, and just a few months after Scotland’s decision to do the same.

Currently, there are 6,500 people in the UK waiting for a life-saving transplant, and three of those die each day due to the shortage of organs available for transplant. Despite 96% of the British population agreeing with organ donation in principle, only around a third have actually taken the time to sign up to the organ donor register.

Sally Johnson, director of organ donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, has welcomed the government’s commitment: “We hope this announcement will drive a national conversation about organ donation. Whatever legislation is in place, telling your family of your organ donation decision lets them know what you want to happen and means your family don't have to make a difficult decision when they are grieving.

“The shortage of donors means on average three people die a day in need of a transplant so we urge everyone to have the conversation today.”

May’s speech paid particular attention to the inequality amongst the black and Asian minority ethnic groups, who are not only more likely to need an organ transplant, but also wait longer for a suitable organ.

“Sadly nearly one in five people who die waiting for a transplant are from a black or Asian background,” added Johnson. “Even though 719 black or Asian people had a transplant in 2016-17 (22% of all transplants), black and Asian people still wait significantly longer for a kidney transplant. They are more likely to need a transplant due to genetic factors and it's harder to find a suitable organ for them without donations from their own community.”

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, added: “The decision to introduce an opt-out system for organ donation in England is excellent news. The BMA has lobbied and campaigned tirelessly on this for years and has the potential to save many lives.

“It is important that the new process is well publicised to ensure the public are fully aware of and understand this important change. The health service must also have the resources, as well as facilities, to ensure transplant procedures can be performed when they are needed.”

Comments

Opsimath   07/10/2017 at 16:58

How can this be considered as 'donation' when the vultures have the legal right to rip the organs out of not-yet-dead bodies? When did 'Nobody told me not to' become a legal excuse? What right does the government or the NHS have over my organs. This is so WRONG!

Dom   08/10/2017 at 21:53

This country is a absolute joke , it shouldn't be a opt out system . It should be a opt in as it's our bodies , loving the dictatorship we might as well just move to Korea and have it done with .

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