UK doctors lobby for organ donation opt-out system

Organisation: Position: Deadline Date: Location:

Doctors in the UK will try to persuade ministers at the Westminster, Holyrood and Stormont parliaments to introduce an opt-out system for organ donation to prevent 1,000 deaths a year because of organ shortages, reports The Guardian.

The British Medical Association will lobby the three parliaments to follow the lead set by Wales, which in December introduced presumed consent for organ retrieval. Under this system people who die in hospital are presumed to have consented to their organs being used for transplantation unless they have expressly indicated otherwise.

The doctors union believes that the dozens of lives estimated to have been saved in Wales since it adopted this approach means England, Scotland and Northern Ireland should do the same. The BMA voted at its annual conference to actively lobby to get the same approach adopted across the UK.

“As a doctor, it is difficult to see your patients dying and suffering when their lives could be saved or dramatically improved by a transplant,” said John Chisholm, chair of the BMA’s public health medicine committee, who proposed the motion. “It is even more difficult when we know that lives are being lost unnecessarily because of poor organisation, lack of funding or because people who are willing to donate organs after their death simply never get around to making their views known, resulting in relatives making a decision without knowing whether the individual was willing to donate.”

The report says figures from UK Blood and Transplant, the National Health Service agency which manages organ transplantation, show that 6,485 seriously ill patients are currently on the waiting list to receive a new organ. Three people a day die because they do not get a new liver, heart, lungs or other body part, the report says.

Full report in The Guardian

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