Patient group attacks BMA on organ donation

Patient Concern has accused the BMA of using 'misinformation' in the debate about introducing presumed consent for organ donation.

Joyce Robins, co-director of Patient Concern, said: ‘The BMA is using its considerable influence to mould public opinion on the basis of misinformation and distorted facts about the supply of organs.

‘It makes sweeping statements about presumed consent producing a far higher number of organs.

‘Over the past year three august bodies, the House of Lords' EU Committee, the Welsh Assembly and the Organ Task Force, have rejected a change in the law. The expert advice they have considered from all over the world persuaded them that there is no convincing evidence that this change will boost the organ donation rate and that it could actually be counter-productive.'

BMA Wales estimates that around 30 people have died in Wales in the last year waiting for a transplant on the organ donor register.

A BMA spokesman said: ‘Joyce Robins accuses the BMA of misinformation and distorting the facts about organ donation in support of its campaign for a shift to presumed consent, but the data speak for themselves.

'An independent systematic review of the evidence, commissioned by the Organ Donation Taskforce (and published alongside its report), identified eight studies comparing donation rates in countries with presumed consent and ones without, four of which were methodologically sound. All of these found presumed consent law or practice was associated with increased rates of organ donation (of up to 30%) and three of the four were statistically significant. It also identified five studies comparing donation rates before and after the introduction of presumed consent all of which reported an increase in donation rates following the introduction of presumed consent. 

'Clearly other factors are also relevant, which is why the BMA has always argued for presumed consent as one part of a broader review of the organ donation system. We support the practical changes to the organ donation system recommended by the Organ Donation Taskforce and we understand why there is a desire to assess the impact of these changes before changing the model of consent. We sincerely hope that these changes will achieve the 50% increase in donation rates the Taskforce is predicting but they may not and we cannot afford to wait another four years before considering other options.

'Based on the published research data we believe that a system of presumed consent, alongside improvements to the organisation of the organ donation system, is the best way forward and we will continue to push for informed public debate about this option.'

neil.durham@haymarket.com

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