Organ Donation :: UK Government task force to explore presumed consent for organ donation

UK Health Secretary Alan Johnson has asked the organ donation taskforce to explore whether all adults should be automatically included on the organ donor register.

The proposal, known as presumed consent, would view everybody as a potential donor unless they had registered an objection or ‘opted out’ before death. The taskforce will examine the complex moral and medical issues around presumed consent, including giving the family of the deceased a final say on the donation of any organs.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said:

“We know that around 8,000 people in the UK need an organ transplant but only 3,000 transplants are carried out each year. With more than 400 people dying every year waiting for a new kidney, heart, lung of liver we need to do everything possible to increase organ donation.

“I want to see organ donation and transplant rates start to rise and match the rates seen in some other European countries enabling us to save many more lives.

“The Chief Medical Officer’s annual report helped put the idea of presumed consent into the public arena to be debated. This is a sensitive issue, but it is vital that all possible options for increasing the number of organs available for transplant are explored.

“I have asked the Organ Donation Taskforce to look at the complex issue of presumed consent specifically and report back to me.”

In order to properly examine the complex issues that relate to an opt out or presumed consent system, the Organ Donor Task Force will consider all of the issues, commission the necessary research, consult stakeholders and advise Ministers.

Elisabeth Buggins, the chair of the Organ Donation taskforce said:

“I am very pleased that the taskforce has been asked to explore this incredibly important issue. We will establish a special sub group to take this work forward which will examine the complex medical, ethical, legal and societal issues.”

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