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    A Change of Heart? UK Seeks to Universalize Organ Donation by 'Presumed Consent'

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    The UK Health Secretary announced December 12 the United Kingdom will be introducing "presumed consent" policy on organ donation, meaning Britons will have declare before death that they do not want their organs donated, turning the current system on its head.

    In a statement on Twitter, Jeremy Hunt pointed out three Britons a day die due to a lack of willing donors, and claimed the Government's new policy would not override the will of family members who do not want their loved-ones organs donated.

    The policy change seeks to add the United Kingdom to the list of countries experimenting with such a system, or with alternative methods.

    Brazil

    The South American country used to operate according to the "presumed consent" system just announced in the UK, starting in 1997 — but the program was scrapped the following year due to high levels of public distrust in the health system.

    Iran

    The Iranian Government has undertaken a unique and internationally somewhat controversial system of commercial organ donation which was legalized in 1988. The ability of patients to pay a donor has eliminated waiting times for kidney transplants, the most commonly transplanted organ globally, with the government matching patients and potential donors as well as providing health insurance for both and covering all hospital costs. The commercial nature of the transaction has however seen the system criticized as encouraging organ harvesting and the rates of transplant success are hard to assess.

    Spain

    Spaniards are the most prolific organ donors in the world and also operates a presumed consent regime for organ donation. Final approval for a transplant must come from the family of the deceased however, who only have to refuse in order to prevent the procedure going ahead.

    United States

    The American health system suffers from a chronic shortage of organ donors, with around 120,000 people, over-50s, currently on waiting lists to receive the life-saving surgery. According to the US Health Department, 20 Americans die every day waiting to receive an organ donation. 

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    Tags:
    Organ Donation, organ transplantation, UK, Health, Jeremy Hunt, Iran, United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil
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