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Waiting to die? Opt-out of waiting list deaths

This report presents research collated and reviewed with two fundamental goals in mind: to understand and to present in simple terms, the current problems with the UK organ donation system; and to analyse to what extent an 'opt-out’ donation system might solve the problems.

The nature of the problem can be so simply stated that it is in danger of being perpetually underappreciated: over 1000 people every year die or have to be removed from the organ waiting list. Our concern involves not only the loss of life this shortage can cause, but also the economic and logistic inefficiencies that the lack of transplants create within the NHS.

Research from the NHS suggests that around half of the population would like to donate their organs after death. Only 16% definitely would not want to donate. Yet less than 40% of the population is registered as an organ donor. Our approach had been to model how these numbers might determine the availability of organs under an opt out system.

Based on published data from NHS Blood and Transplant, the models show that even if only the 50% definitely in favour all became registered under opt out, virtually no one in the UK would die waiting for an organ transplant.

The ability to end deaths on the organ transplant waiting list is therefore within the scope of an opt-out system, even if on the most limited scenario, no one is newly persuaded to donate.

Polygeia is calling on the Government to introduce a white paper on adopting an opt out organ donation system before the end of this Parliament. The time for waiting is over. It is time to act.

Read the report here.

Contributors: Chidera Ota, David Neal and Ali Abdaal


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