The British Medical Association (BMA) supports the move by MP Jeremy Browne (Liberal Democrat, Taunton) to promote parliamentary debate on presumed consent for organ donation by means of a private member's bill to be debated in the House of Commons on Friday 13th March.

The BMA backs an opt-out system whereby all adults would have continuous opportunities to make it known if they do not want to donate their organs after death. Among the safeguards proposed, high profile publicity campaigns would make everyone aware of the choices. Consent to donation would only be presumed if individuals expressed no objection. Families would also be consulted and donation would not proceed if relatives would be seriously distressed.

Dr Tony Calland, Chairman of the BMA's Medical Ethics Committee, said today: "While the BMA supports many of the proposals put forward by the Organ Donation Taskforce, we still believe that changing to a system of presumed consent will do even more to improve donation rates. We are very pleased that Jeremy Browne agrees with our position and is introducing this private member's bill on Friday.

"At least one person dies every day while waiting for an organ transplant and it is essential that every effort is made to increase the number of donors available."

The gap between the supply of organs for donation and the numbers of people requiring a transplant is increasing and the waiting list continues to grow each year. Studies1 show that up to 90% of the population would be willing to donate organs after their death, yet only 26% of the population are registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

BMA briefing paper on organ donation can be accessed on the BMA website here.

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