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Two thirds of people support an opt-out organ donation system

Two thirds of people support a ‘soft’ opt-out organ donation system, a survey reveals.

Currently England, Northern Ireland and Scotland have an opt-in organ donation system where a person has to register their consent to donate their organs in the event of their death.

The BMA survey, which questioned over 2,000 members of the public, finds that while two out of three people want to donate their organs at death only 39% are signed up to the organ donation register.

Under an opt-out system, which has already been introduced in Wales, there would be a presumption in favour of consent for organ donation unless a person had registered an objection in advance.

If an objection had not been registered, family members would still be given the opportunity to confirm whether the individual had any unregistered objection, as an extra safeguard, before any procedures went ahead.

The BMA has long advocated a ‘soft’ opt-out system with safeguards for organ donation and continues to believe this is the best option for the UK to reduce the shortage of organs and save lives.

Dr John Chisholm, BMA ethics committee chair, said: “Although organ transplantation has seen amazing medical achievements it has not yet reached its full life-saving and life-transforming potential.

“These figures show that in the current system, a large number of people who wish to donate their organs are not signing up to the register. Vital opportunities to save people’s lives are being missed.

“Around 10,000 people in the UK are in need of an organ transplant, with 1,000 people dying each year while still on the waiting list. Since soft opt-out was adopted in Wales, 160 organs have been transplanted, almost a quarter of which were down to the new system.

“The BMA is calling for all UK governments to follow suit and adopt a soft opt-out system.”

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