Britain plans for opt-out organ donation scheme to save lives

Leslie Hanson
August 7, 2018

Our health and social care correspondent Victoria Macdonald has been to the Transplant Games in Birmingham - to find out how organ donations are transforming lives.

The new system presumes that over-18s in England are in favour of donating their organs when they die, instead of the current system where people opt in by signing the NHS Organ Donor Register.

The legislation is expected to be brought before the House of Commons when MPs return from recess in Autumn, and if Parliament approves the organ donation law, it will come into effect in England by Spring 2020.

While research shows that 82% of people in England support organ donation, only 37% have indicated so on the register.

According to NHS records, only 7% of donors previous year were from BAME backgrounds, with Indians accounting for just 1.9%.

Some 411 people in the United Kingdom died on the transplant waiting list in 2017.

The legislation was subsequently introduced past year, and will return to the House of Commons in the autumn to be voted on.


"We believe that by making these changes, we can save as many as 700 more lives every year", said Jackie Doyle-Price, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health and Inequalities.

Specialised nurses will be available to discuss organ donation with families so that an individual's choices are respected.

Hundreds of lives could be saved by a new opt-out system which will see adults over the age of 18 automatically registered for organ donation in the event of their death. "We need to address myths and misconceptions around donation, and we will only do this by having informed debate and dialogue, which I hope will be fostered by these proposals", she added. "Of course, the reason why the government have shifted from the opt-in to the opt-out position is to increase donations - which is a good thing, but done in a way which is at risk of being done by slight of hand".

People who don not want to donate their organs will be able to register their decision through NHS websites, phone calls, and an app which will launch at the end of this year.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: 'There is a desperate shortage of organ donors in the UK.

The country began a voluntary organ donation trial in 2010 and promoted the practice across the country in 2013.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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