Letter: Opt-out requirement for organ transplants

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Sir: I note in your report on the Review of Medical Research by the Advisory Council on Science and Technology ('Organ 'opt-out scheme needed' ', 3 February) that Dr Peter Doyle is quoted as saying that 'not one kidney transplant in 1990 was done from a person carrying a donor card'.

This statement has no basis in fact and helps to continue the misconception that donor cards are of no value in the provision of organs from cadaveric kidney donors. During 1990, 1991 and 1992 in the Oxford region, 38, 43 and 46 per cent respectively of donors of solid organs were carrying a donor card. In all such instances this made the approach and discussion of organ donation with the relatives a relatively straightforward affair for all concerned.

Whether an opt-out system is required or not is another argument, and I personally am not persuaded that this is the way to go, but I do wish to correct the misconception that the donor card system is of no value. Not only do an increasing number of donors carry a card but the cards also serve an extremely valuable purpose in stimulating discussion of the subject among the public.

Yours sincerely,


Nuffield Department of Surgery

University of Oxford

5 February