One of the latest proposals to be floated by the NHS is to give priority to people who are actually registered organ donors, if they themselves need a transplant.
The NHS wants to increase the number of people agreeing to donate organs as there is a national shortage in donated organs. They believe that if registered donors are seen to be effectively ‘jumping the queue’ should they be in need of a transplant, this in turn would encourage more people to register.
There are currently 7,000 people on the UK transplant waiting list and last year more than 1,300 died without receiving an organ. If you are waiting for a heart, the wait is, on average over three years; and if you are in need of a kidney the wait is about 20% longer.
The Blood and Transplant service commissioned a survey, which showed that while 40% of people agreed that waiting for an organ transplant would be uniquely difficult, only 29% of them had signed up to the NHS’s organ donor register.
The donor register currently has about 18 million people signed up, while there are 7,573 people on the active waiting list for an organ transplant. Unfortunately, although people may be on the donor register, families often override their loved ones wishes and refuse permission for a transplant.
This system of prioritising was first introduced in Singapore. While they don’t exclude people who don’t donate, it does give priority to those who do. It has also been successfully introduced in Israel and statistics have shown that it has actively encouraged donation.
It remains to be seen whether or not this system of prioritising could work in the UK and there is still a lot of discussion and debate to be had, and like any radical change it will be open to opposition. There will be many people who feel that organ donation should be prioritised according to need.