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New debate needed on organ donation

13th February 2012

The British Medical Association has released a report which calls for a new discussion about the subject of organ donation.

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Dr Vivienne Nathanson, one of the report's authors, said people should consider if fresh ways of getting people to donate organs should be considered or if the current problem of patients dying on the waiting list for donor organs should perpetuate.

She said new ideas "could include an opt-out system, whether we should include higher risk donors or pressing for more intensive care beds in the NHS."

"There could also be legislative options like the possibility to electively ventilate someone - not to benefit their own health but to make them a better donor."

While statistics show that the amount of people donating organs has gone up recently it still falls short of providing an organ for every person on the waiting list.

The report found that donation rates have increased by a quarter over the three years since 2007-08.

According to NHS Blood and Transplant, donation rates could go up to 34% by April 2012. 

The BMA said in its report that society should consider whether it would be acceptable to use organs from people who were declared "brain dead" and were being kept alive by ventilator. 

Dr Paul Murphy, an intensive care consultant and Clinical Lead for Organ Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant commented: "Any initiative that encourages people to think and talk about the importance of organ donation helps to change attitudes and ensures that donation is seen as a routine part of end of life care in the UK." 

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