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Organ donations rising across the UK

From BBC - February 15, 2018

A record 170 organ donations took place across the UK in January, resulting in more than 400 life-saving transplants.

The rise in numbers comes as the NHS is running a public consultation into whether England should follow Wales and introduce an opt-out donation scheme.

The online consultation has so far had more than 11,000 responses; a huge amount bearing in mind similar surveys usually attract a few hundred replies.

The NHS's Claire Williment said: "It has got the nation talking."

Mrs Williment, head of transplant development for NHS blood and transplant (NHSBT), said this was "a positive thing".

Families consulted

Anthony Clarkson, assistant director of organ donation and nursing at NHS Blood and Transplant said: "January was by far the busiest month on record for organ donation thanks to 170 very special individuals.

"Thanks to the generosity of organ donors and the support of their families, people in desperate need of a transplant are getting a second chance at life," he added.

The 12-week consultation, which runs until 6 March, asks people their views on three questions:

Under the current system in England, people who want to donate their organs opt in by signing up as a donor on the NHS organ donor register and telling their family their decision.

If a decision has not been recorded at the time of a person's death, hospital staff will consult family members on whether organ donation should go ahead.

Of the 600,000 people who died in the UK between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017, only 5,681 were eligible donors, but after donation requests were made to families only 1,413 became donors.

Families are always consulted before a donation takes place and 91% of them agree to it if their relative is on the organ donation register (ODR), according to figures from the NHSBT potential donor audit.

However, when patients are not on the ODR then 47% of families say no to a donation.

On average, one organ donor contributes to three transplants but it is possible for their organs or tissue to be used in up to nine people.

One option for the future in the consultation is for a person's donation decision to be respected after their death, without their family being asked.

However, Mrs Williment said any decision on a change like that would be down to the Department of Health.

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