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Warning to doctors over donor consent

22nd April 2009

Researchers have concluded that doctors should not take it on themselves to ask bereaved families for consent to use their relative’s organs for transplant.

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A study says they will have a greater chance of gaining consent if accompanied by a specialist transplant coordinator.

Researchers from the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, reviewed 20 studies on organ donation after it emerged that as many as four in 10 relatives deny consent.

The study also said discussing donation at a separate time to informing the relative about death was important.

Lead researcher Dr Duncan Young said: "All too often officials will get involved in conversations about organ donation when informing the relative their loved one has died. But just having that time, even just a little time, to accept things seems to make a difference.

"I think the importance of having both a coordinator and doctor is to do with doctors not having the social skills to discuss this in the best manner.

"Many doctors will not necessarily deal with that many donor cases so they are not used to it. Whereas having a trained coordinator makes a big difference."

The NHS Blood and Transplant authority said it hoped the research would lead to better understanding of the benefits of involving an expert donor transplant co-coordinator.

Donor consent has been an issue in the NHS for a number of years and while there is a record 16 million people on the UK organ donor register, there are still three people dying everyday while waiting for an organ.

 

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