Lack of conversation leads to lost donations
Transplants Three people die every day in England because of a lack of organ donors - yet the country seems reluctant to discuss it.
“It's time England had a conversation about organ donation,” says Fiona Loud, policy director of the British Kidney Patient Association. “In the UK 5,000 people a year die in a position where they could donate, but in English law there is no presumed consent for donation – people must opt in. Furthermore, in 2010-2016, 500 families said no to organ donation, despite the fact that their family member had wanted to donate.”
As a result, opportunities to change lives are lost every day. In England only 62% of families give permission for donation (34% in black, African and ethnic minority families) – one of the lowest rates in Europe.
In Wales, organ donation law changed in December 2015 to presumed consent, unless people opted out. “In its first year only 6% of the population opted out,” says Loud. . “It is very encouraging that the number of Welsh patients who received a transplant went up by 24% during this time.”
In Scotland a new consultation on the issue ends in March, and a new bill is under consideration now in Northern Ireland.
Loud says: “England has never had a consultation on presumed consent. It's time the country had that conversation.”
Conversation within the family is equally important. “It is hard for families to decide about kidney donation in the midst of grief, so it's vital that people who are on the organ donation register tell their families, so their loved ones know what they want.”
World Kidney Day, on March 9th is a good opportunity. “Last year's day 6,000 people added their name to the organ donor register,” says Loud. “Let's beat that figure this year.”