BMA reaffirms support for opt-out system in organ donation

AN opt-out system for organ donation is still the best way forward, says the BMA in a new report.

Even if Government targets are met to increase the number of donors by 50 per cent by 2013, people will still be dying unnecessarily while waiting for an organ transplant, states the report.

Building on Progress: Where next for organ donation policy in the UK? has been produced by the BMA’s Medical Ethics Committee as part of its ongoing work on organ transplantation. It acknowledges that since the Government Organ Donation Taskforce report was published four years ago there have been major changes and significant improvements to the organ donation system in the UK but the BMA still believes that a public debate is needed to consider what more can and should be done to prevent needless deaths among patients languishing on waiting lists.

Chairman of the BMA’s Medical Ethics Committee, Dr Tony Calland, said: "We are at a crossroads in terms of public policy. As a society we need to decide whether we should accept that we have done all we can or whether we should move forward, cautiously, and look at other options for increasing the number of donors. There needs to be a public debate on what will work for the UK so that people on the transplant list do not die waiting for a donor.

"These are complex issues that throw up many ethical challenges. It is important that society discusses them openly in a reassuring way. The aim here is to save lives while at the same time protecting individual rights and autonomy.

"While our report explores a number of options the BMA continues to believe that an opt-out system with safeguards is the best way forward for the UK."

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