Update: To Donate Or Not Donate ...

A while back I posted about opt-out versus opt-in policy for organ donation. Here's the original blog entry.

Well, there's been an update from the government on this. the e-petition was completed (4000+ signatures) and the government responded. Unfortunately, they are not saying much.

The Government know that around 8,000 people in the UK need an organ transplant but only 3,000 transplants are carried out each year. With more than 400 people dying every year waiting for a new kidney, heart, lung or liver, we need to do everything possible to increase organ donation. The Government is keen to see organ donation and transplant rates start to rise and to match rates seen in some other European countries.

On 17 July this year, the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, published his Annual Report for 2006, On the State of Public Health, in which he reviews key health problems and developments. In his report, Sir Liam calls for action to tackle the present shortages of organs for transplantation. His recommendations include the need for legislation to be amended to create an opt-out system for organ donation, more opportunities to be taken to increase donations in hospitals and to maximise organ transplantation, and for targeted campaigns to be aimed at increasing organ donation in ethnic minority populations.

In 2006, prior to the Chief Medical Officer's report, Ministers asked officials within the Department of Health's transplant policy team and the UK Transplant (UKT) division of NHS Blood and Transplant to bring together a group of key people to form an organ donation taskforce. The taskforce was asked to review the progress made since the publication of Saving Lives, Valuing Donors - A Transplant Framework for England in 2003 and The National Service Framework for Renal Services in 2004. It will also identify barriers to organ donation, analyse factors militating against organ donation and make recommendations for increasing donation rates within existing legal frameworks. The taskforce will report to Ministers shortly on what steps could be taken to optimise donation rates, and we look forward to receiving its recommendations.

Following the publication of the Chief Medical Officer's report, the Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson, asked the organ donation taskforce to form a subgroup in order to examine the potential impact on donation rates of introducing an 'opt-out' or presumed consent system in the UK. It has been asked to consider the clinical, ethical, legal and societal issues surrounding such a system.

Any move to a system of presumed consent would require a change in the current law and extensive prior consultation.

Link to original.

Hopefully something will happen and I know we must allow for due process, but I wish they had all said, "great idea" and got on with it.