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Presumed consent not answer to solving organ shortage in US, researchers say
Date:11/29/2011

nation in those countries does not differ dramatically from the process in countries, such as the United States, that require explicit consent. They also found that the United States ranked third among the nations surveyed in rates of organ donation from the deceased, with 26.3 deceased donors per million population. Only Spain (34.1) and Portugal (26.7) did better.

"It does not appear that by simply having presumed consent legislation on the books that donation rates will rise," says Brian J. Boyarsky, the Hopkins researcher who conducted the interviews.

Segev says that in the United States, whether or not someone is declared as an organ donor prior to death, physicians will approach family members and ask whether they would still like to donate their loved one's organs. The family gets to make the final decision, regardless of the deceased's stated intentions, Segev says.

What he and his colleagues learned was that even in the countries with presumed consent, donation was still discussed with the potential donor's family at the time of death, even though doctors were legally permitted to transplant those organs. In six of the 13 countries, there is actually a legal requirement that doctors speak with relatives. This is done to be transparent with the family about the donation process and to obtain a complete medical and social history of the potential donor. Donation would not proceed if the family objected, just as in the United States, in all but one of the countries surveyed (Portugal), the researchers found. This is because of a fear of negative press, the participants told Segev's team, and a desire to respect the wishes of the grieving family so as to prevent psychological harm.

Implementing presumed consent legislation, Segev argues, would take a huge amount of time and energy with minimal payoff. Many countries with presumed consent have much lower rates of organ donation than the United States, he notes.

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Contact: Stephanie Desmon
sdesmon1@jhmi.edu
410-955-8665
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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