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November 2017


New proposal for organ donation opt out

Prime Minister Theresa May has announced plans to launch a public consultation on how to increase rates of organ donation. The consultation will include a proposal of a new system where unless a person has chosen to opt out it will presumed that his or her organs can be used for transplants. In 2015 a system of presumed consent was introduced in Wales and in Scotland there are plans to introduce a similar change to the law. Under the current system, any person who wishes to become an organ donor needs to opt in using the NHS Blood and Transplant registration and organ donor card scheme. Also, a family member of a deceased person who has not made their wishes known can consent to the donation of organs.

In 2016 there were 1,169 deceased organ donors and 3,293 transplants in England. While the rate of organ donations is on the rise, the number of people waiting for a transplant is still much higher than the number of available organs. There are currently 6,500 people on transplant waiting lists. Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has said "Too many people still wait too long for an urgent transplant and we must urgently address this. Just as most people would be willing to accept an organ if their life was at risk, most people would be willing to donate one to help save somebody else...All these issues will be looked at in the consultation and we welcome all those with views to come forward with their contributions." (As quoted by www.gov.uk)

Peter C. Williams from Right to Life has expressed his opposition to this proposal of presumed consent. In an article in Catholic Herald he highlighted the difference between a person choosing to become an organ donor and the government presuming it may lay claim to them: “To take organs without explicit permission turns the charity and solidarity of true donation into a State-mandated nationalisation and plundering of the organs of every individual in the country upon their death....This violation of the dead inverts the proper normative relationship not only between doctors and patients, but Government and the governed: that we must give clear permission to non-necessary medical activity on our persons, and the use of our bodies....Giving our bodies to others is our prerogative, not that of the State or the medical system.” (As quoted by LifeSiteNews)

The consultation, which will run for twelve weeks, will be launched at the end of this year.