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Patients support organ donation opt-out, shows BMA survey

Almost two thirds of people (65%) support automatic enrolment on to the organ donation register, a BMA survey has found.

This would mean people would have to opt out of the system if they do not want to donate their organs after they die.

Currently, only 39% of over 2,000 people surveyed said they are on the register. England, Scotland and Northern Ireland have an opt-in donation system, where a person must give their consent to donate their organs after they die.

Wales however has already introduced the ‘soft’ opt-out system, which gives a presumption of consent unless a person has objected in advance.

BMA ethics committee chair Dr John Chisholm said: ‘Around 10,000 people in the UK are in need of an organ transplant, with 1,000 people dying each year while still on the waiting list… Since soft opt-out was adopted in Wales, 160 organs have been transplanted, almost a quarter of which were down to the new system.’

But there are safeguards to the proposed change. If an objection has not been given, family members would still be given the opportunity to confirm whether the individual had any unregistered objection before a procedure.

The BMA have been long-time campaigners for a ‘soft’ out-out system.

Dr Chisholm said: ‘The BMA is calling for all UK governments to follow suit and adopt a soft opt-out system. If we have an opportunity to address the chronic shortage of organs and save the lives of patients across the UK, surely we should be taking it.’