Letter: Organ donation opt-out scheme

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your article about organ donation (report, 3 February) raised the possibility of an 'opt-out' system, by which surgeons would have the right to remove any part of the body they want unless the individual has signed a notice forbidding it.

The article was based on the premise that an opting-out scheme would make more organs available for transplant. There is no clear evidence of this happening in countries that have adopted such a scheme. Before making such a change, medical professionals and the Government would have to be confident that increased donations would result.

Further, there is a widespread belief that the giving of organs should continue to be a positive choice made by individuals. In any case it is unlikely clinicians would want to ride roughshod over the wishes of grieving families.

The number of kidney transplants has increased by 100 per cent since 1978, and the donor card programme has been successful as a means of publicising the value of organ donation and getting people to think about it and discuss it with their families. My department recently announced a pounds 1.5m television campaign, beginning next month, which will ensure that this progress continues.

Yours faithfully,


Parliamentary Under Secretary

of State for Health

London, SW1