Brit Parliament Push To Increase Organ Donation, Makes All Adults Presumed Organ Donors By 2020

The law is inspired by the story of Keira Ball and Max Johnson.

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Brit Parliament Push To Increase Organ Donation, Makes All Adults Presumed Organ Donors By 2020

The United Kingdom has moved to make organ donation presumed for most adults by 2020 to increase organ donation in England and with the aim to save thousands that depend on organ donation transplant.

The presumed consent law is highly inspired by the story of Keira Bell, a nine-year-old who tragically died from fatal injuries during a car crash in 2017, and Max Johnson, another nine-year-old who was able to live longer after receiving the transplant of Keira Bell’s heart after a heart failure due to infection.

The story of the two nine-year-olds was highly publicized and was densely covered by most news outlets in England, prompting the UK government to do something to address the supply and demand gap in organ donations.

In Max and Keira’s Law, a new system will be implemented where most adults, with very narrow exceptions, are presumed organ donors by 2020. The Parliament votes on the new law on Tuesday.

Adults living in England will be automatically considered as potential donors unless they express objection by signing an ‘opt-out’ form. Wales has a presumed consent or ‘opt-out’ system already, and the Scotland Parliament is reported to follow through and draft a similar one.

“Although we’d never discussed organ donation, I knew it was what Keira would have wanted,” her father, Joe Ball, told the BBC. “It was in her nature.”

Joe Bell, after the death of his daughter, together with his wife and other friends, has since advocated increasing organ donation rate in England.

SHUT DOWN BY RELIGIOUS GROUPS

A previous attempt to pass the presumed consent system in Parliament has failed in 2008 after it faced magnitudes of protest and objections from religious and cultural groups.

One of the staunchest critics of the ‘opt-out’ system is the Orthodox Jewish authorities who said that organ transplant and donation violates the Jewish Law, which prohibits desecrating the body after death.

However, since 2008, public support has since increased. A study revealed that only 6% of Britons had rejected organ donations based on religious and cultural grounds. Research has also shown that 80% of the British population has expressed support to organ donations.

Support for the bill is not only growing in the grass-roots. It has also gained positive support from the British government. According to a report by BBC, the presumed consent bill has the support of the conservative government, the leadership of the opposition Labour Party, and the Medical establishments in the UK.

“I’ve seldom seen such a unanimous range of support,” said Geoffrey Robinson, the Labour lawmaker who sponsored the bill and who was one of the dozens from both major parties who spoke in favor of it on Friday. “This will save lives.”

Last fall, British Prime Minister Theresa May has also expressed her support to the legislation and said that the Parliament should change to the presumed consent system. She also invited public comments through March 6.

OPT OUT SYSTEM BOOSTS ORGAN DONATION RATES

Countries with a presumed consent system have higher organ donation rates than those that adopted the “opt-out” system.

In the US, before an individual can be considered as an organ donor, he should fill out a registration form, join an online registry or consent should be made by family members and the next of kin.

Demand for organ transplant has exceeded the supply of transplantable organs. Every year, thousand due around the world due to the lack of access to organ transplants, including hundreds in England.

“I’ve seldom seen such a unanimous range of support,” said Geoffrey Robinson, the Labour lawmaker who sponsored the bill and who was one of the dozens from both major parties who spoke in favor of it on Friday. “This will save lives.”

Spain is one of the first countries to adopt the presumed consent system in organ donations in 1979, making it have one of the world’s highest donation rates – double that of Britain.

GAIN PUBLIC TRUST

However, other experts argue that to get higher organ donation rates, presumed consent is not enough. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, Spain has started to deploy transplant coordinators in different hospitals in 1989. These transplant coordinators will scout for potential donors and talk them into donating their organs after death. This is one of the widely considered reasons for Spain’s high organ donation rates.

Dr. Jose Ramon Nuñez from the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the most crucial factor in increasing organ donation rates is gaining people’s trust.

“We have to try and transmit to families that they can be a donor and they can also be a recipient at any time,” Dr. Nuñez said. “And if they see clarity, they see fairness in the way organs are allocated; they can be generous in donating their organs.”

The House of Commons has already approved the presumed consent bill. The third and final consideration for the law is set on Monday evening by the House of Lords, which rarely intervenes in this stage of the legislative journey. /apr

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