Increasing organ donation rates by revealing recipient details to families of potential donors

J Med Ethics, September 2017
Authors: David Shaw, Dale Gardiner
“Many families refuse to consent to donation from their deceased relatives or over-rule the consent given before death by the patient, but giving families more information about the potential recipients of organs could reduce refusal rates. In this paper, we analyse arguments for and against doing so, and conclude that this strategy should be attempted. While it would be impractical and possibly unethical to give details of actual potential recipients, generic, realistic information about the people who could benefit from organs should be provided to families before they make a decision about donation or attempt to over-rule it.”
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Organ Donation: Presumed Consent and Focusing on What Matters

JME Blog, 25 September 2017
Author: Rebecca Brown
“It makes intuitive sense that presumed consent systems would increase organ donation rates, and those who fail to support their introduction often come under criticism. Such criticism tends to assume that failure to support presumed consent is due to a failure to properly recognise the importance of organ donation or a sentimental or squeamish attitude towards bodies as well as oversensitivity towards those who are hesitant about organ donation. Yet, even if one is very concerned with increasing organ donation rates, there are grounds for scepticism about the helpfulness of presumed consent systems as a means of achieving this.”
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Scotland to introduce soft opt-out system for organ donation

The Guardian, 28 June 2017
Author: Severin Carrell
“Scottish ministers are to introduce a new system of organ donations based on presumed consent in an effort to increase life-saving organ transplants. The change of policy follows the introduction in Wales of a presumed consent system in December 2015, which led to a rise in organ donations and an increase in the number of families agreeing to donations. Last year there were 39 organs transplanted in Wales using its deemed consent system out of 160 organ transplants. Only 6% of people opted out of the system. The Scottish government’s decision to follow suit will increase pressure on ministers in London and possibly in Northern Ireland to introduce similar reforms. ”
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A quarter of kidney donors are living: what you need to know to be a donor

The Conversation, 19 June 2017
Author: Holly Hutton
“At any one time, more than 1,400 Australians are on an organ transplant waiting list. The most common organs in demand are kidneys, followed by the liver and lung. While the number of deceased organ donors in Australia has doubled since 2009, rates of live donor transplantation – where a person donates one kidney or, rarely, a portion of their liver – are relatively static. The Australian government gives A$4.1 million to run the Supporting Living Organ Donors program. This scheme includes reimbursing employers for sick leave for those who donate an organ, as well as other initiatives that aim to remove financial barriers to organ donation.”
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The Disputed Death of an 8-Year-Old Whose Organs Were Donated

The Atlantic, 16 June 2017
Author: Sarah Zhang
“This unusual case casts light on a once-controversial but increasingly common protocol called “organ donation after circulatory death,” which occurs after the heart has stopped. (Also sometimes called “donation after cardiac death,” or DCD.) In contrast, the vast majority of organs in the U.S. come from donors who are brain dead.”
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No Pain, All Gain: The Case for Farming Organs in Brainless Humans

JME Blog, 10 June 2017
Authors: Ruth Stirton, David Lawrence
“It is widely acknowledged that there is a nationwide shortage of organs for transplantation purposes. In 2016, 400 people died whilst on the organ waiting list. Asking for donors is not working fast enough. We should explore all avenues to alleviate this problem, which must include considering options that appear distasteful. As the world gets safer, and fewer young people die in circumstances conducive to the donation of their organs, there is only so much that increased efficiency in collection (through improved procedures and storage) can do to increase the number of human organs available for transplantation. Xenotransplantation – the transplantation of animal organs into humans – gives us the possibility of saving lives that we would certainly lose otherwise.”
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Blood disaster: Families search for the truth

BBC, 10 May 2017
Source: BBC News
“Jason Evans’ father died after being infected with HIV through treatment with contaminated blood. Now in what is understood to be the first case of its kind, Jason is taking legal action against the government for its role in his father’s death. More than 2,000 people – mostly haemophiliacs – have died after being infected with HIV and hepatitis C through blood treatments. The victims were infected over 25 years ago, in what has been called the worst treatment disaster in the history of the NHS.”
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‘I went to the web to find a new kidney’

BBC, 1 May 2017
Author: Lesley Curwen
“A growing number of UK patients have bypassed the traditional NHS system of organ allocation, instead harnessing the power of the internet to find their own. Transplant doctors fear this development could result in an unsavoury competition to attract donors online, in what some have called an “organ beauty pageant”. And they worry that it rips up the traditional health service ethos of equal access to treatment for all.”
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Smithfield makes move on market for pig-human transplants

Reuters, 12 April 2017
Authors: Julie Steenhuysen, Michael Hirtzer
“Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, has established a separate bioscience unit to expand its role in supplying pig parts for medical uses, with the ultimate goal of selling pig organs for transplantation into humans. Recent scientific advances for using pigs as a supply of replacement parts for sick or injured people, makes it an attractive new market. Transplants from animals could help close a critical gap to help those in need.”
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