All UK residents to be placed on the Organ Donor Register.
My name is Natalie Kerr, I am 34 years old and four years ago I was fortunate enough to receive a double lung transplant which saved my life from a rare lung disease. Currently three people a day die waiting for an organ transplant in the UK due to a shortage of donors! I propose we change the law.
There are currently around 10,000 people in the UK in need of an organ transplant and there simply aren't enough organs available. Could you imagine if this happened to one of your loved ones like it did to me, fortunately I was lucky and have had 4 extra amazing years with my two children, many people aren't so lucky! I propose that we change the law to automatically place all UK residents on the Organ Donor Register with a CHOICE to opt out. I strongly believe that this will save many lives!
Government responseWe have no plans to introduce an opt out system in England. Since 2007/08 organ donation rates have increased by 68% and transplant rates by 47% giving many more people the opportunity of a transplant
Since 2007/08 organ donation rates have increased by 68% and transplant rates by 47% mainly through a strengthening of the donation infrastructure (increasing the number of specialist nurses, appointing clinical leads in hospitals and public awareness of the benefits of donation). We continue to support work to further increase donation and transplantation rates, particularly promoting collaborative working amongst organisations and raising awareness of donation in the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) population. NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) works with a number of partners in the private, public and third sectors to promote organ donation, such as the Boots Advantage Card.
A new UK-wide NHS organ donor register was launched in July 2015. It enables any resident in the UK to record on the Register that they want to be a donor, they don’t want to be a donor or that they want to appoint a representative to make a decision about organ donation after their death. People can also add their name to the NHS Organ Donor Register (ODR) via Government channels such as applying for a driving licence and paying car tax online. NHSBT continues work to improve access to the ODR, to encourage people to add their name to the ODR and most importantly to tell their family and friends that they wish to be a donor.
Only around 5000 people a year die in circumstances that would allow them to donate. Last year (15/16) was the UK’s most successful year ever for deceased donors, with 1364 deceased donations, resulting in 3529 deceased donor transplants. An independent Organ Donation Taskforce examined the case for moving to an opt-out system in 2008. They recommended against it, concluding that whilst such a system might have the potential to deliver benefits, it also carried a significant risk of having the opposite effect and alienating some members of the population. The question of opt-out has been debated in Parliament on a number of occasions since and a number of changes have been made to make it easier to register as an organ donor.
We recognise that some countries with opt-out have seen an increase in donor numbers, however, other countries have not. It is difficult to identify absolutely that opt-out legislation was the reason for the increase rather than for example the increased public communication or the improvements to the donation programme. For example in Spain (the country with the highest rate of donor numbers) a change to opt out legislation made no difference for 10 years until radical action was taken to strengthen the donation infrastructure. Since 2008, the UK has adopted much of the ‘Spanish model’ to strengthen the UK infrastructure and has achieved a significant increase in donation and transplant rates
On 1 December 2015, Wales introduced deemed consent (opt-out) for organ and tissue donation. We will monitor how the changes in Wales affect donation rates but our efforts remain focussed on encouraging donor registration and discussion within families about donation in order to increase consent rates.
UK Government provides NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) with around £66m a year to support organ donation. In 2013, NHSBT launched a UK-wide organ donation and transplantation strategy Taking Organ Transplantation to 2020, setting the agenda for increasing organ donation and transplantation rates. This sets ambitious targets to:
- Increase Consent Rates
- Increase Donors
- Increase Organ Utilisation (transplant more of the organs offered from donors)
- Increase Patients Transplanted
We monitor progress against targets closely.
Department of Health
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