Reviews TV

Press red button, donate kidney

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 18 August 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:461
  1. Joanna Lyall, freelance journalist (
  1. London

    The BBC does its bit to increase organ donations

    As from Monday, television viewers will be able to add their names to the NHS Organ Donor Register by pressing the interactive red button on their digital handsets. This innovation—using the kind of interactive technology that has long been a feature of television charity appeal shows such as Children in Need—will be available throughout a new week long BBC season on organ donation, known as DoNation.

    Some transplant surgeons and medical ethicists have welcomed the idea for its potential to reduce the huge shortage of organs. More than 6000 people are currently awaiting transplants in the United Kingdom, and last year 2242 transplants were carried out. About 400 people die each year waiting for a transplant, according to UK Transplant, which has cooperated in the making of the series.

    A telephone survey of 1206 people carried out for UK Transplant and published in March 2003 found that 90% supported organ donation, but under 20% were on the register. Four per cent opposed the donation of organs to help others. UK Transplant has also established regional variations in willingness to donate. Gateshead has the highest proportion (36%) of its population willing to donate, followed by Basingstoke, …

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