More people still needed for organ donations despite a rise past year

Pearl Mccarthy
August 7, 2018

The UK has announced plans to introduce a new system of consent for organ and tissue donation in a bid to meet the urgent need for organs for people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

Jackie Doyle-Price, parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Mental Health and Inequalities, said: "We believe that by making these changes, we can save as many as 700 more lives every year".

There will be exceptions - children under 18, those with diminished mental capabilities, and foreigners who have been in the country less than 12 months - and relatives can still override the "presumed consent", if the "donor" has relatives in the first place to object.

There are roughly 5,100 people on the waiting list in England and the government estimates that the new system has the potential to save 700 extra lives a year.

While research shows that 82% of people in England support organ donation, only 37% have indicated so on the register.

"I've always been a supporter of organ donation, it's such a noble thing to do for people to give that gift - it really is the gift of life", he added.

Under the new law, those who do not wish to donate their organs will still be able to opt out via the register and by using an NHS app that launches at the end of the year.

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Specialised nurses will be available to discuss organ donation with families so that an individual's choices are respected.

The law change follows a consultation past year which showed the public are overwhelmingly in favour of organ donation, but only a minority have registered as organ donors.

The legislation, which was introduced in parliament in July 2017, will return to the House of Commons in the autumn.

New systems to record an individual's faith and ensure the NHS consults religious leaders or family members on any traditions that need to be respected will be in effect from December 2018.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: 'There is a desperate shortage of organ donors in the UK.

He said: "This will also ease the agonising pain felt by many families who risk losing a loved one while they wait for an organ".

Northern Ireland will soon be the only part of the United Kingdom without an opt-out organ donation system, the Ulster Unionists have warned.

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