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England set to adopt opt-out organ donation

Published on 05/10/17 at 10:26am

In a major change for the healthcare system in England, admittedly one that was easy to be lost among the other headlines made by Theresa May’s speech, it was announced that a consultation would be held to introduce an opt-out system of organ donation.

Currently, individuals must register as an organ donor and, even then, if their family objects, this personal decision can then be overruled by the family. It looks likely, however, that England will now join Wales, which adopted a soft opt-out system in 2015, and Scotland, which is currently introducing presumed consent, in necessitating a person to explicitly state that they do not want to donate organs.

The move will give hope to the more than 6,500 people of the transplant list that they may not have to wait much longer or that people in their predicament in the future may not have an extended wait before receiving organs.

In her speech, May explained her party’s decision: “Our ability to help people who need transplants is limited by the number of organ donors who come forward. That’s why, last year, 500 people died because a suitable organ was not available and there are 6,500 on the transplant list today. So to address this challenge, that affects all communities in our country, we will change that system: shifting the balance of presumption in favour of organ donation.”

The decision by the Conservatives came after both Labour and the Liberal Democrats had previously called on this proposal to be put forward.

Various charities have reacted positively to the news; Fiona Loud, Policy Director at Kidney Care UK, said: "This is a truly momentous day for the 25,000 people in England on dialysis with kidney failure. One person dies every day whilst waiting for a kidney transplant and this change has the potential to be both life saving and life changing."

The consultation process will take place over the course of 12-weeks and is expected to begin before the end of the year.

Ben Hargreaves

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