'Opt-out' organ donations won't solve waiting lists deaths, says NHS chief

Modesto Morganelli
Febbraio 15, 2018

An opt-out organ donation system could save hundreds of lives a year, official estimates suggest.

Past year the NHS carried out 4,662 life-saving organ transplants yet they still believe 457 deaths were caused by a shortage of donors.

The charity spokesperson said it is proud to see that its "calls to both the GHA and the Department of Health in the United Kingdom in respect of Gibraltar residents having access to the UK NHS Blood and Transplant Organ Donor List and now being able to reciprocate with local organ donations to the UK has not fallen on deaf ears".

Under proposals launched in December, it will be presumed a person agrees to be a donor unless they specifically say no.

But the consultation paves the way for consent to be presumed - even though there is a lack of proof the measure will drive up donation rates - with an option for that permission to be made by the patient without familial input.

When it started, more than one million people - 34 per cent of the population - registered to opt in with 86,000 opting out.

The most likely option is the "soft opt-out" introduced in Wales two years ago, where families can still refuse consent.

He said: "Everyone talks about Spain as being the country with the highest organ donation rates in Europe".

"It's the changes in the infrastructure (and best practice such as identifying all potential donors, and best use of retrieval teams) that have made the most difference, rather than the legislation".

He said: "There is that view that opt-out is seen as the best thing since sliced bread and that it will sort the problem out. Assuming opt-out does come in, it's hard to know how much difference that will make".

Dr Dale Gardiner, deputy national clinical lead for organ donation and intensive care consultant at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said that donation should be considered to be "a fundamental part of end of life care".

Currently, anyone who wants their body to be used for transplants after death has to join the donor register.

More than 450 people died in 2016 while on the active transplant waiting list - patients ready to receive a donor organ but one did not arrive in time. It is abundantly clear that we need to review our current system now to stop this continuing.

Ms Williment said an opt-out system may help improve rates, but only as part of a wider strategy.

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