Sunday, January 13, 2008

Organ opt-out...

Gordon Brown, writing in today's Sunday Telegraph and adding to his vison for the NHS on the revamp of screening etc (Gildy writes...) , and despite voting against it 3 years ago, said he supports a move to allow hospitals to take organs from dead patients without explicit consent.
"The proposals would mean consent for organ donation after death would be automatically presumed, unless individuals had opted out of the national register or family members objected."
All details are not clear and it could be construed as being a bit spooky - hospitals will be rated for the number of deceased patients they "convert" into donors (!!!) - at least it may reduce illegal organ trafficking - and doctors would be expected to identify potential donors earlier and alert donor co-ordinators as patients approach death. Sounds a bit dodgy but it can work, as the Spanish system has proved: their system works on the same "presumed consent" and although initial thoughts would suggest "presumed consent is no consent", in Spain, which has the highest proportion of organ donors in the world, where the surgeon/donor coordinators "spend hours listening to bereaved relatives and asking them to consider organ donation."
"When a patient is declared brain dead and their body is only artificially sustained by machines the dialogue begins."
In excess of a thousand people die each year in the UK just waiting for transplants...where there is about 13 donors per million in our population. "This compares with about 22 per million in France, 25 per million in America and around 35 per million in Spain - the best in the world."...maybe this is the way forward although personally I would prefer a sustained effort to increase the number of donor-card carriers by less polemic methods first; what better place to start than NHS Organ Donor Register: My life, my gift. Go on...have a heart! (sorry...)

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