Organ donation consent should be presumed

The chief medical officer is expected to announce that everyone should be considered an organ donor after death unless they have opted out.

CMO, Sir Liam Donaldson
CMO, Sir Liam Donaldson

Sir Liam Donaldson is concerned over the lack of available organs for transplant and believes that this country needs a system which assumes consent.

Over the last 10 years the number of individuals waiting for a transplant has risen by 30 per cent. Surveys has shown that 90 per cent of individuals are willing to be organ donors, but only 14.5 million people, 23 per cent of the population, are on the organ donor register.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has already backed a presumed consent programme. In a recent report the BMA said: 'Each year, many people die waiting for organ transplant.

'At the same time, bodies are buried or cremated complete with organs that could have been used to save lives, not because the deceased objected to organ donation but simply because they never got round to signing up to the NHS Organ Donor Register or informing their relatives of their wishes.'

Both the BMA and Sir Donaldson are expected to take a 'soft' opt-out option. Family members are informed if a relative has not opted out of donation. Organ removal proceeds unless the family are aware of an unregistered objection or if the procedure would cause the family distress.

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