British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced his support for the harvesting
of organs from dead patients without prior consent, and said that he hopes for such a
policy change to take place within the year.
"A system of this kind seems to have the potential to close the aching gap between the potential benefits of transplant surgery in the United Kingdom and the limits imposed by our current system of consent," Brown wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.
With a waiting list for organs 8,000 patients long, and 1,000 people dying each year due to organ unavailability, the U.K. has announced plans to overhaul its organ donation system. As part of this new effort, doctors and nurses will be pressured to identify more organ donors ahead of time and to alert organ donation coordinators as patients approach death. The government seeks to appoint a doctor in each hospital as a donation "champion," to be paired with a lay person who can do outreach on the topic.
The government admits that a conflict of interest might occur when doctors are encouraged to view still-living patients as potential organ sources.
Even with these planned measures, the government says that donations might still be insufficient. For this reason, Brown and others are calling for the presumption of consent unless patients have formerly opted out or their family members explicitly deny permission.
Advocates point to the discrepancy between the rate at which people in Britain endorse organ donation - 90 percent - and the 60 percent of families that give permission upon a relative's death. Among many ethnic minorities, the donation figure is as low as 25 percent.
Patients groups blasted the proposal, saying it infringes on patients' rights over their own bodies.
"They call it presumed consent, but it is no consent at all," said Joyce Robin of Patient Concern. "They are relying on inertia and ignorance to get the results that they want."
Robin said the government has not made enough efforts to increase voluntary donation to justify to such extreme measures.
(naturalnews, 6.18.2008, David Gutierrez | Key concepts: organ donation, doctors and natural health) http://www..com/023460.html