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74% of people in England in favour of ‘opt-out’ organ donation

organ donation

Almost three quarters (74%) of people in England are in favour of an ‘opt-out’ organ donation system – where people are registered as a donor, unless they state otherwise – rather than the current ‘opt-in’ law, according to new figures from the British Heart Foundation (BHF). 

In a poll of over 2,000 people the heart research charity found that, out of those who would not support a change in the law, four in ten (42%) were put off by concerns that they would not be able to opt out, or that it would be difficult to do so. The charity says this highlights a lack of public awareness and confusion about the proposed new system which would allow any person opposed to donating their organs to opt out.

This Friday, MPs will be voting on a new Bill that will introduce an ‘opt-out’ system in England, potentially saving thousands of lives.

The BHF say the figures also indicate a lack of awareness around the urgency of organ donation, with nearly two-thirds of people (59%) underestimating the number of people on the organ transplant list in the UK (which last year peaked at 6,388) and over one third (36%) underestimating the number of people who died last year whilst on the waiting list for an organ (a total of 457 people)

The figures also revealed that over two-fifths (43%) of people are not aware of their families wishes when it comes to organ donation, with nearly half (47%) saying they simply hadn’t thought about having this conversation and over a quarter (27%) saying it was too awkward or sad to bring up.

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: “There is a desperate shortage of organs in the UK and introducing an opt-out system in England will better reflect the views of the general public and give hope to those currently waiting for a transplant they so desperately need.

Kieran Sandwell, who had a heart transplant at just 38, said:
“I have been given a second chance at life, but I have met many others who are living in agonising uncertainty about whether they will live or die. For them, a new organ is their only chance of survival.  Surely with so many people in need, an opt-out system is a no-brainer.

“I’m alive today because my donor made it clear she wanted to donate her organs, and I will be forever thankful that she made her wishes clear.”

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