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

tients are going abroad for transplants and coming home with serious complications.

"These transplant tourists' often face low standards of safety and quality of care," Donaldson wrote in his annual report, at www.dh.gov.uk. "The risks of damaged organs, infections and death are markedly increased."

The British Medical Association, which represents doctors, said the proposal would help save lives.

"We must increase the number of donors available and the BMA believes that a system of presumed consent with safeguards will help to achieve this," said Dr Tony Calland, chairman of the BMA medical ethics committee.

But the National Kidney Federation said the changes would not automatically lead to a rise in transplants.

"To make a difference we need more surgeons, we need more intensive care unit beds, we need the government to put more money behind transplantation and we need more willing donors," said Chief Executive Timothy Statham.

Chief Medical Officer of Scotland Harry Burns too felt that the public was not ready as yet for a situation where all people were treated as organ donors unless they opted out. He said people were not yet prepared for a system of presumed consent.

Dr George Fernie, a member of the British Medical Association's Scottish Council, said: "Surveys have shown that 90 per cent of the population supports organ donation, yet only 23 per cent have signed up to the organ donor register. And so the decision falls to the family when they have just been told their relative has died or is dying.

"Not surprisingly, when they do not know their relative's wishes, a large number [40 per cent] opt for the default position, which is not to donate."

He added: "The BMA believes that a change to a system of presumed consent for organ donation addresses this problem."


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