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Monday 24th October 2016

Humane approach to organ donation

27th January 2008

In a leading article The Independent on Sunday says it is time that we all opted-in for a more humane approach to organ donation.


One of the great breakthroughs in modern medicine – organ transplant surgery – is under pressure because of a serious lack of donor organs.

The issue of consent lies at the core of a problem: while three quarters of the population say they would be happy to donate their organs, only 25% are actually on a register giving permission for their organs to be used in transplant surgery. A result is that 40% of organs that are suitable for transplant go unused while the waiting list for organs rises at the rate of 8% a year.

Plans to address this by the Government include doubling the number of transplant co-ordinators and having 24-hour organ retrieval teams on standby.

But the biggest shift will be in moving Britain from the current system to one of presumed consent, similar to the one which currently operates in Spain, where everyone is considered a donor unless they specify otherwise. Spain has three times more organs for transplant than the UK.

Making more organs available also has a significant cost benefit to the NHS. While dialysis costs £25,000 a year, a kidney transplant costs £45,900 and then £7,100 for annual treatment thereafter – a saving the NHS would be wrong to ignore.

While more breakthroughs in transplant technology and organ regeneration are on the horizon, the Government should at present concentrate on persuading “more of us to make the humane decision about what should happen to our organs after death.?


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