There have been some rather sad headlines this week on the status of organ donation in the UK, particularly regarding the use of ‘risky’ donor organs due to shortages.
Earlier this month, the Royal College of Physicians generated a minor media controversy with their suggestions for changing the process for organ donation. Their notion of ‘mandated choice’ seems an excellent compromise to the ongoing shortage of organ donors: nationwide three people per day die waiting for an organ transplant, and the use of ‘high risk’ donor organs has doubled in a decade. Clearly, the system does not work as well as it could.
Suggestions of an ‘opt-out’ system, whereby everybody is an organ donor until they choose otherwise, run the risk of defying the wishes of the deceased because they did not plan on dying; a grieving family would not need this further upset. Mandated choice, therefore, ensures that each individual’s wishes are respected, and should provide a significant boost to organ donations; only 27% of the population is a registered donor, although almost all would accept a donor organ. Common-sense solutions such as the RCP’s mandated choice are sometimes needed to ‘nudge’ people into action they might otherwise not have gotten round to.