Letter: Raising the total of organ donors

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The Independent Online
Sir: As chairman of the United Kingdom Transplant Co-ordinators Association, I write to express my concern over the findings of the Advisory Council on Science and Technology Committee reported on 3 February. I find it difficult to comprehend how this group could have reached the conclusion that an 'opting-out system' would provide a solution to the organ donor shortage in the UK without exploring the current situation.

To quote statistics from other European countries is a meaningless exercise. Donation rates are influenced by a complex variety of factors, the most limiting of which is that the majority of solid organ donations come from donors who have suffered from brain stem death, a rare occurrence.

We have excellent support for the transplant programmes, with only 30 per cent of relatives unwilling to respond positively to the request. An 'opting-out system' may in fact reduce the numbers of organs available. Legislation would be unacceptable to many of the professionals working within transplantation, whose specific brief is to increase organ donation. Education, awareness and discussion of the individual's wishes to carry a card are more positive measures to reduce the 30 per cent refusal rate.

Yours sincerely,

ALISON CROMBIE

Chairman

United Kingdom Transplant

Co-ordinators Association

Newcastle upon Tyne

11 February

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