Organ donor rules must change, say doctors

Doctors have demanded a change in the rules on organ donation to save more lives.

The British Medical Association has been campaigning since 1999 for a policy of "presumed consent" – in which people will be presumed willing to donate their organs unless they opt out. The BMA reiterated its support for this policy at its annual conference in Cardiff yesterday.

Dr Sharon Blackford urged the association to keep the current system, saying presumed consent could damage trust in doctors. She said families of critically ill patients may fear doctors were keen to harvest their organs. The doctors decisively rejected Dr Blackford's motion and voted to continue pushing for change.

Laura Tukenburg, a medical student, pointed out that over the four days of the conference, 12 people would die from lack of an organ for transplant. "We have a significant problem in this country. There are not enough organs for donation and that means our system needs to change," she said.

Dr Evan Harris added: "It is ethical because the default should be to save lives. It is better for relatives because there is many an occasion where relatives regret saying no out of grief. But I have never heard of relatives regretting saving a life."

Wales's Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said the Welsh Government would "in due course" introduce a Bill on presumed consent.

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