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Treat Every Patient as a Potential Organ Donor, British Health Official Says

Severe organ shortage plagues many countries across the world. Perhaps one way out could be treating everyone as a potential donor unless they explicitly refuse to consent , Sir Liam Donaldson, Englands Chief Medical Officer has suggested.

He has noted that current severe shortage only leads to the deaths of hundreds of patients on waiting lists each year.

According to figures, 70 per cent of people want to donate their organs after death, but only 20 per cent are on the NHS organ donor register.

Sir Liam said: "There are simply not enough organs donated to meet the need for transplant, with one person dying every day while waiting for a transplant.

"Compounding this are issues surrounding consent, which often reduces this number further."

To meet demand for organs, the number of people on the NHS donor register would need to treble, Sir Liam said.

"I believe we can only do this through changing the legislation to an opt-out system with proper regulation and safeguards," he said.

Under current laws, donors must explicitly "opt-in". Donaldson wants it reversed. Simply all patients would be presumed to have given their consent unless they specifically say No.

The government rejected similar proposals when it reformed the system in 2004. Opponents of "presumed consent" say it would be unethical for doctors to be given such powers.

They say apathy should not be interpreted as a desire to donate organs. Some patients oppose donation for religious and moral reasons.

Critics point to the public outrage sparked by the organ retention investigations at Bristol Royal Infirmary and Alder Hey children's hospital in Liverpool.

However, surveys suggest up to seven out of 10 people support the idea of donating their organs. But only a fifth of the population, 13 million people, have actually added their names to the NHS register.

Doctors say more pa
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