‘Opt-out’ organ donation consultation period ends

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Heart in a box

This week marked the end of the government’s public consultation on whether England should follow Scotland and Wales and adopt an opt-out system for organ donation.

Currently in England you are asked whether you wish to opt-in. This means you give clear approval for your organs to be used, either by signing the organ donation register or if you told a family member that you wished for your organs to be donated.   

Under the government’s proposed plan, which was recently backed by MPs, an opt-out system would replace this, meaning you would be automatically registered for organ donation unless you state you do not wish to be.

Speaking about the issue, Barbara Harpham, Chief Executive of Heart Research UK, said: “Heart Research UK has always tried to make the gift of life to those who need it, beginning with funding six of the first UK heart transplants. Today we still fund pioneering research into heart transplantation.

“If, as the government has proposed, an opt-out system is introduced, it has to be implemented alongside additional resources to make sure these precious organs can be used.  

“More organs means more operations, more facilities, more intensive care beds and more trained staff.

“Better care of organs has to come too which is why are funding a world-leading research project with Mr Steven Tsui at Papworth Hospital to look into how to improve the transportation of donor hearts and how to recondition previously-thought-of unusable hearts so more are available.

“Just as important though, potential donors must be encouraged to talk to their next of kin to make sure their wishes are always carried out.”