At the moment organ donation is based on an opt-in system with people signing to say that, yes, when they die they would like their body parts to be taken out and given to people that need desperately need them to survive. Now, though, ministers have announced that a consultation will be take place about introducing an opt-out system.
Such a system would mean that barring any absence of express permission, it would be presumed that an adult's organs can be used in transplants after they die. Wales has had a system like this in place since 2015, known as a soft optout, which also includes the option for families to object to organ donation after death. In June Scotland announced its intention to introduce a similar scheme known as presumed consent after it was found 82 per cent of people were in favour of it.
Following the announcement of the consultation in Theresa May's speech at the Conservative Party Conference yesterday, The Department of Health confirmed that there would be a 12-week consultation sometime later this year.
Apparently there are 6,500 people on the transplant list, and three people die every day because they're unable to get replacement organs. Personally I feel like an opt-out system is the way things should be done. Anyone with no real opinion on donating their organs isn't likely to opt-in in the first place, but with an opt-out system their organs can be put to good use after they die. People who have objections to their body parts being used in transplants are far more likely to make the effort and ensure it doesn't happen.
The only concern I have is about the amount of control family members have when it comes to consent. According to the NHS since 2010 more than 500 families have rescinded consent, despite knowing that their deceased relative was a registered organ donor and wanted to donate their organs. While those numbers don't seem big, it does mean around 1,200 people missed out on a transplant they desperately needed. Frankly that doesn't seem right.
This consultation is definitely a step in the right direction, and hopefully it will lead to the introduction of an opt-out system that can help save more lives. In the meantime if you're not a registered organ donor, but would like to be, you can sign up here. It's a single form, and should only take a couple of minutes to fill out. [BBC News]