Taking Organ Transplantation to 2020

In response to the UK having one of the highest rates of family refusal for organ donation in the Western world, the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) conducted a stakeholder engagement exercise to identify ongoing challenges and explore strategies for building on recent successes. Stakeholders, including experts on organ donation and transplantation, donor families, transplant recipients, individuals on the transplant list, religious and community leaders, and the general public were given the opportunity to voice their opinions as part of this exercise through a series of meetings and an online survey. Using the information collected, the Organ Donation Taskforce created a new strategy for improving donation and transplantation that was directed towards four key groups: (1) society and individuals, (2) NHS hospitals and staff (donation), (3) NHS hospitals and staff (transplantation), and (4) NHSBT and commissioners. Central to this strategy was ensuring that organ donation and transplantation was a collaborative process that considered organs donated by deceased individuals as a UK-wide resource. To increase the donor pool, work was done to help individuals see organ donation as a normal and “expected” behavior, while the NHS worked with their staff to improve policies around obtaining consent and providing proper support in any case where donation was appropriate. Focus was also placed on working with Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic communities where the need for transplants was high, but the number of donors was low due to various cultural beliefs and traditions. One strategy employed as part of this effort to increase organ donation was the introduction of an opt-out system for consent. Implemented by the Welsh Government, individuals were given the choice to register as a donor or opt-out, with the understanding that no declaration would be interpreted as consent to donate. The new system was supported by a two-year communications campaign designed to promote the new law and inform citizens of the options available to them. 
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