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“Muddy waters” surround evidence for opt-out system of organ donation, says surgeon

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 15 February 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k744
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. London

The will to increase the rate of organ donations is indisputable, but is opt-out the answer for England? Nigel Hawkes reports

England is proposing to adopt an “opt-out” system for organ donation with no clear evidence that it will increase donation rates, says a leading transplant surgeon who is also a non-executive director of NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).

Keith Rigg, consultant transplant surgeon at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, told a briefing at the Science Media Centre in London that he was an opt-out sceptic. “It’s often seen as a solution to the organ shortage by politicians and others, but there are many other factors that muddy the waters,” he said. The prime minister’s announcement that England would consult on introducing an opt-out system had come “out of the blue,” he said.

The consultation was launched in December and closes on 6 March.1 It has attracted over 11 000 responses—a huge number, said Claire Williment, head of transplant development at NHSBT. Online consultations normally attract …

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