Move to make everyone organ donors

Proposals in place to make everyone automatic organ donors unless they object

EVERYONE WILL AUTOMATICALLY have their organs taken for transplant unless they register their objections under new Government plans.

Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, has ordered a team to look in to the issue after hundreds of people are dying while waiting for organ transplants.

The Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, called for moves in July to put ‘presumed consent’ in place, where the individual is assumed to be a willing donor unless they opt out.

Such schemes work well in other European countries, yet opponents feel organ donation should be altruistic not coercive.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Johnson highlighted the urgent need for more donors, saying: ‘We know that around 8,000 people in the UK need an organ transplant but only 3,000 transplants are carried out each year. With more than 400 people dying every year waiting for a new kidney, heart, lung or liver we need to do everything possible to increase organ donation.’

But is ‘presumed content’ the way to resolve the issue? Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of the British Medical Association’s ethics and science committee, thinks the public need to be well informed. ‘At least one person dies every day while waiting for an organ transplant and we desperately need to change this. Before any changes go ahead, however, it is essential that a public information campaign is launched so that people are completely aware of the choices they can make. It is important that everyone realises that they will not be compelled to donate.’

Roger Goss, co-director of the pressure group Patient Concern, disagrees. ‘Organ donation should be an altruistic gift that people should make freely.

‘How can you have consented to something by failing to consent? Where next? Presumed consent to whatever a surgeon or other doctor thinks best?’

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