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We should all be organ donors

18th July 2007

England’s chief medical officer wants everyone to be seen as a potential organ donor on their death unless they expressly request not to be in a bid to tackle a major shortage of donor organs.

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Sir Liam Donaldson wants a system of “presumed consent? to be introduced in England after it emerged that one person dies every day because of a failure to find a suitable donor.

The move has been welcomed by transplant campaigners and endorsed by the British Medical Association (BMA). But the idea has been rejected in Scotland and in England the Conservatives believe it would be better to increase the number of people already on the donation register.

However, Sir Liam said efforts to persuade more people to carry donor cards or sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register had failed. Figures show that only 20% of the population (13 million) are on the register despite surveys showing that 70% of people wanted to donate their organs after death.

Sir Liam said he was making the recommendation based in part on the experience of Spain where donation rates have almost doubled to 35 people per 1m since a system of presumed consent was introduced in 1990. But countries such as Austria, run a very strict system where the views of relatives are not taken into account at all.

Dr Tony Calland, chairman of the BMA medical ethics committee, said: “We must increase the number of donors available and the BMA believes that a system of presumed consent with safeguards, will help to achieve this.?

 

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