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Transplant body seeks donor views

Doctors leaders have welcomed a survey on future priorities for the UK's organ donation scheme.

NHS Blood and Transplant is seeking views on possible reforms.

Its survey asks interested parties, including doctors and patients, to prioritise a range of options for increasing donation rates.

The questions reflect issues raised by the BMA in its February report Building on Progress: Where Next for Organ Donation Policy in the UK?, including whether elective ventilation should be used or the consent system should be changed.

The NHS Blood and Transplant asks, for example, what can be done to increase the pool of appropriate potential donors. Respondents can prioritise a list of suggestions including reviewing the ethical, legal and professional acceptability of so-called elective ventilation (where a gravely ill patient whose death is inevitable is intubated and ventilated to enable donation after brainstem death).

Common practice

It also asks how best to make organ donation ‘a normal part of UK culture’. The suggestions include: NHS staff to lead the way; making education about organ donation and transplantation a standard part of school curricula; and changing the system to an opt-out one or one in which it is mandatory for people to make a choice on donation.

The BMA has been campaigning to improve organ donation rates for many years.

BMA medical ethics committee chair Tony Calland said: ‘The simple fact is that more patients need organs than become available at present and therefore governments and the medical profession must continue to work hard to ensure that the maximum number of organs possible are made available for transplantation through mechanisms which are seen to be safe, ethical and also acceptable to the public.

‘There is a huge public generosity of spirit about this issue and people need to be given every opportunity to understand the need for organs and how they can join the donor register.

‘Some of the controversial areas need an informed public debate and surveys that raise the issues and test the public understanding and mood are important to this process.’

The survey closes on September 21.

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Medical Ethics Committee

The Medical Ethics Committee debates ethical issues on the relationship between the medical profession, the public and the state.

We can also advise BMA members on ethical situations they may be facing.

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