Intended for healthcare professionals


Presumed consent for organ donation

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 31 January 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:230
  1. Danielle Hamm, ethics adviser,
  2. Juliet Tizzard, deputy head of ethics
  1. 1British Medical Association, London WC1H 9JP

    Is an ethical and effective way of dealing with organ donation shortages

    Last year, 1000 people in the United Kingdom died while on the organ transplant list or after being removed from the list because they became too ill. Had a system of presumed consent been in place, whereby adults are automatically registered as organ donors unless they opt out, many of these deaths may have been prevented.

    Over the past year, opinion in the UK among the public, media, and politicians has shifted towards presumed consent, and the prime minister has pledged his support of such a system. A public opinion poll taken in October 2007 showed that 64% of respondents were in favour of a soft system of presumed consent, compared with 59% in 2004.1

    Although 90% of the UK population is in favour of organ donation, only 24% has signed the Organ Donation Register.2 Currently, when …

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