An individual who does not want to be an Organ Donor would have to "opt-out" by entering their name on a National Registry maintained by UKT - the same organisation that now keeps the UK National Waiting List ORGAN DONATION REGISTER of transplant candidates. When a person died under circumstances that would permit Organ Donation, a search would be made of the Registry. If their name did not appear in the Registry, it would be presumed they had consented to be a Donor. While the family would be advised of this information, their consent would not be required, and no one would be allowed to override the donation.
Here's why we think Presumed Consent would be better:
2. Presumed Consent works well in other countries where it has been instituted - Austria, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Latvia, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Poland, Greece, and Singapore - where the opt-out rate has been around 2%.
3.Tracking the 2% who don't wish to be Donors would be easier than tracking the 98% who do wish to be Donors or don't care.
4.Presumed Consent preserves the Welsh spirit of unselfishness and altruism.
5.Presumed Consent would remove the burden of making a decision about Organ Donation from families already dealing with the traumatic death of a loved one.
6.Presumed Consent could be implemented quickly, easily, and relatively inexpensively by working within the framework of the existing Organ Donation system.
7.Presumed Consent could have a dramatic impact on the number of organs available for transplant, significantly reducing the Waiting List and the number of deaths on the waiting list, as well as relieving the pain and suffering of thousands.
The views of relatives are sought and they can refuse consent
Spain has the soft opt-out system, where even if the person hasn't themselves opted-out of donation, the views of relatives are sought and they can refuse consent. About 20 to 24 per cent of relatives refuse, compared with currently 40 per cent in the UK. Spain has a higher number of donors than the UK and has had a year-on-year increase in organ donations for the past ten years.
But the country also has a higher number of road deaths and a system where relatives of potential donors are always approached by specially trained staff. So even if the system was changed, the level of organ donation in the UK may not reach that of Spain.
The Director of the National Transplant organisation in Spain, Dr. Matesanz, says the lesson of the Spanish experience is that it makes a huge difference if you have a person responsible for identifying possible organ donors in hospitals, not whether you change the system to opt-out.
The number of kidney transplants performed was nearly equal to those on the waiting list
Austria has the hard opt-out system which means that the views of relatives aren't taken into account at all and they can't refuse consent. After Austria passed a presumed consent law in 1982, their donation rate quadrupled and by 1990 the number of kidney transplants performed was nearly equal to those on the waiting list.
In Belgium in 1985 the kidney donation rate was 20 per million population, but this jumped to 37.4 per million just three years later after a change in the law to presumed consent.
A different policy operates in the US, which tries to ensure that relatives are always asked about the possibility of donation. This policy is called 'Required request' and is defined "that it shall be illegal as well as irresponsible to disconnect a ventilator from an individual who's declared dead following brain stem testing without first making proper enquiry as to the possibility of that individual's tissues and organs being used for the purposes of transplantation."
This policy means opportunities for donation aren't missed - as they can be in the UK.
The latest report from an on-going audit by UK Transplant carried out in 2003 to 2004 found that in 15 per cent of cases there was no record that the relatives had been approached to give their agreement to organ donation.
The introduction of required request in the US saw an initial increase in organ donation, but this has since declined.