BMA calls for presumed consent in organ donation
The BMA has thrown its weight behind Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh’s move to promote a debate on an opt-out system for organ donation. The MP for Mitcham and Morden is to introduce a Ten-Minute Rule Bill into Parliament in an attempt to increase support for such a system.
Dr Michael Wilks, chairman of the BMA's ethics committee, welcomed the government’s efforts to improve donation rates but suggested that the only way to increase it significantly was to introduce a system of presumed consent. The BMA said in a statement that it would continue to push for the provision of presumed consent in The Human Tissue Bill.
"The fact is that at least one person dies every day while waiting for an organ transplant," Dr Wilks said. "We must increase the number of donors available and we believe that a system of presumed consent with safeguards, will do this. The BMA fully supports Siobhain McDonagh's efforts to promote debate on this issue."
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British Medical Journal
Press Release: Monday, 2nd February (BMA)
BMA welcomes MP's moves to promote debate on an
opt-out system for organ donation
The British Medical Association (BMA) supports the move by MP Siobhain
McDonagh (Labour, Mitcham and Morden) to promote parliamentary debate on an
opt-out system for organ donation by means of a Ten Minute Rule Bill, 'The
Organ Donation (Presumed Consent and Safeguards) Bill', to be debated on
Tuesday 3 February.
BMA policy supports a move towards an opt-out system where, for adults,
consent for transplantation is presumed with safeguards for people who do
not wish to donate their organs or whose family would be seriously
distressed if donation were to proceed.
Dr Michael Wilks, Chairman of the BMA's Ethics Committee, said today: 'The
government is really trying to improve the organ donation rate and the BMA
fully supports this.
'The fact is, however, that at least one person dies every day while
waiting for an organ transplant. We must increase the number of donors
available and we believe that a system of presumed consent with safeguards,
will do this. The BMA fully supports Siobhain McDonagh's efforts to
promote debate on this issue.'
The gap between the supply of organs for donation and the numbers of people
requiring a transplant is increasing. At the end of December 2003, 7,278
people were on the transplant waiting list in the UK. The waiting list
continues to grow each year. Studies show that around 90% of the
population would be willing to donate organs after their death, yet only
19% of the population are registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
The BMA works in alliance with patient and health organisations to secure
improvements in the availability of organs for transplant. The BMA
believes that moving to a system of presumed consent, where it is assumed
that people are willing to donate their organs after death unless they opt
out, combined with other reforms to the transplant infrastructure, would
play an important part in improving the organ donation system so that more
lives can be saved.