Thursday, November 13, 2008

British organ donation: opt in versus opt out

The Telegraph reports that A report into organ donation ordered by Gordon Brown will not recommend a system of presumed consent.

"The group ordered to look into the system as a possible solution to a shortage of donors is due to report at the start of next week. It will recommend that ministers work to increase the number of donors but is expected to favour a situation where donors still register to donate organs after their death.
The group is understood to have come under pressure from Muslim organisations to keep the opt-in system.
But senior government figures, including the Prime Minister and Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, are understood to believe that presumed consent is the only way to solve the problem. "

The London Times also covers the story, with a different emphasis: Brown’s organ donor plan is rejected by scientists

"Mr Brown has argued previously that presumed consent, already used in Spain and other countries, could help to “close the aching gap between the potential benefits of transplant surgery in the UK and the limits imposed by our current system of consent”. ...
But the taskforce, an expert working group of healthcare professionals, lawyers and ethicists set up to look at ways to increase the number of organ donations, is understood to believe that an opt-out system would do little to boost the number of life-saving transplants. It is expected to say such a move would create practical problems for the NHS and risk a potential backlash among the public.
Last night a senior Whitehall source told The Times: “It’s fair to say this report is not helpful to the case for a change in the law to presumed consent.” "

Thaler and Sunstein will be disappointed too.

Update: Thaler emails me as follows
"Thaler and Sunstein will NOT be disappointed. We favor mandated choice for two reasons. First, presumed consent raises hackles. Second, it leads to more overrides by family since the donor's intentions may be only implicit.
Illinois has adopted this with zero fanfare. When you renew your license they just ask you "donor or not donor". Perfect."


Anonymous said...

One option is to say that people who have signed up as organ donors should move forward in the queue if they themselves need an organ in future.

Samantha said...

Opt in vs Opt out has always been a very political issue. but all this is changing as people realize that there is nothing political about it and it is really about SAVING LIVES.

In america 20 people per day die on the waiting list - a waiting list that could be easily shortened through an opt-out system.

My friend David Foox has created a line of toys designed to raise awareness and funds (all proceeds go to lobbying groups such as Donate for Life and Gift of Life Michigan) to change the law. Maine has already implemented a opt out system and are currently testing it. This is one area of the law we can change!

Please see David's toys at: