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Our response to Theresa May’s announcement of an opt-out organ donation system

04 October 2017

Kidney Research UK welcomes the news from the Conservative party conference today (October 4, 2017) where Theresa May announced an opt-out organ donation system will be introduced for England.

In her speech Mrs May also recognised that people from minority ethnic groups have a higher risk of illness that require a transplant.

And added that an opt-out organ donation system will be introduced in England, instead of the current opt-in one.

Wales has already adopted an opt-out system and the Scottish government has announced its intention to introduce similar legislation.

Jeremy Corbyn committed Labour to doing the same for England at last week’s Labour conference.

Peter Storey, director of communications at Kidney Research UK, said: “The waiting list for people who need a kidney makes up more than 90 per cent of the organ transplant waiting list yet only around 3,000 transplants are carried out each year. It means some five people die every week waiting for a kidney transplant they cannot get.

“Here at Kidney Research UK we believe much more needs to be done to improve organ donation rates across the UK and a ‘soft’ system of presumed consent for organ donation would help combat the severe shortage of donors in this country.

“This is only one of a number of measures that need to happen including improvements to NHS infrastructure and better training of health professionals. Further research is needed to ensure donated kidneys work better and last longer.”

Kidney transplant patient Sarah Harwood, aged 30 who had Goodpastures Syndrome, also welcomed the news and said it would give more patients a realistic chance of receiving a transplant.

And she added: “This is a really positive step forward for supporting patients who are desperate for a transplant. I had a transplant 10 years ago and I was lucky as I only waited eight months, but for me it felt endless because you just don’t know when you will get that call.

“So much has been done by patients, NHSBT and charities to raise awareness about organ donation and the soft opt-out option is the right way to go. But we still need to raise awareness and remind people to talk to their families about their wishes.”

At any one time around 7,000 people in the UK are waiting for any organ transplant, but due to a shortage of organs up to 1000 of these will die waiting.

Almost 200 of these are under the age of 18.

Find out more about the organ donation register.

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