Organ Donation – a long way to go

Whilst the regional health services debate the different ways of improvement in rates of organ donation, there has been a slight increase in rates for England (Medical News Today 9th April 2013) , rising since 2010 (BBC News). However, 30 years after the first transplant there remain AH12ib_Figure3_9_Organsand the differences in donation rates between races (Indian, Pakistani and Asian are the lowest despite their higher demand) emphasise the inequality in supply. The DVLA offers the option to opt in whenever a car registration is renewed. The Guardian reports the change.  Channel 4 uses the term “nudge” to suggest we are being helped to make the right decision. Do you carry a card, and have you joined the register? The Nursing profession supports the change.

The UK Government has a website and reports National Statistics – Reported road casualties Great Britain: This shows over 21,000 serious motor cycle accidents per annum (a major supplier of kidneys). The comparative figures for the US are also available.

Transplants save lives. And they improve the quality of life so that the Transplant Games was reported in 2007 on BBC news

In the UK between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012:

  • 3,960 organ transplants were carried out, thanks to the generosity of 2,143 donors.

Reported road casualties in Great Britain: Quarterly provisional estimates

This release presents quarterly statistics on road safety in Great Britain.    Quarterly estimates are available

“There were 362 motorcycle users killed in 2011, a 10% decrease compared to 2010 and in line with the trend for motorcycle fatalities.

However the number of users reported as seriously injured increased by 10% to 5,247.

Total reported motorcycle user casualties increased by 8% to 20,150 in 2011.”

Wales wishes to introduce an “opt out” system, and England intends to persist with a voluntary system despite the PM (Gordon Brown’s) support for the Welsh solution in 2008. Countries with opt out have evidently experienced problems with families even if the (now dead) patient consented. Could Wales end up exporting the kidneys from our motor cyclists to England?

Related Ethical Issues:

The decision to deny a mother organs from her dead daughter and instead allocate them to strangers has been defended by the Human Tissue Authority. (BBC News 12th April 2008)

The authority are looking at selective consent options….

Update 11th April “Families could be prevented from overturning donors’ transplant wishes”,  reports Martin barrow in The Times.

In my view this is a reasonable utilitarian decision given the waiting list and how many will still die whilst on it.

Update 13th April. Matthew Paris in The Times comments: “This cult of the corpse is just a pagan relic.”

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Stories in the Media, Uncategorized on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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