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 16 January 2018

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News

Factors influencing hesitation to donate organs

A survey in this week's BBC News reports a widespread support for organ donation in the UK, but shows there is still a lot of misunderstanding about organ donation and a need for people to talk about their own wishes with those close to them.

News image

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There are currently 7708 people waiting for an organ transplant in the United Kingdom.

A BBC News survey suggests that the overwhelming majority of people back organ donation, but 51% have never discussed the issue with loved ones.

The survey of over 2,000 people was carried out in the United Kingdom as part of the DoNation season.

The survey aims to raise awareness of issues around organ donation.

Just under half of those who had not joined the National Health Service (NHS) Organ Donor Register said they had not thought about it.

The survey found that a further 30% said they wanted to join the donor register, but had "not got around to it".

The survey showed that 6 out of 10 people believe there should be change in the law for an opt-out system.

This change in law would mean that everyone would automatically be considered a donor unless they have specifically registered that they do not wish to be.

The survey also found most people vastly over-estimated the number of organ transplants carried out last year.

Only 7,725 heart, lung, kidney, pancreas or liver transplants were carried out during this period.

One in 10 of those questioned said they would not wish to donate their organs, but many had misconceptions over what donation involves.

A fifth thought that if they joined the register, doctors would not fight as hard to save their life
BBC News

The survey showed that over half said that they didn't want their body to be experimented on after their death.

A third believed they were too old or unwell for their organs to be of any use.

The survey found that a fifth were concerned doctors would not fight as hard to save them if they knew they wished to be a donor.

People surveyed were also concerned that they might not really be dead when organs were, and a quarter felt it might "tempt fate" if they joined the register.

Organ transplant experts said all of these concerns were incorrect.

In terms of their own organs, 54% said they were most concerned about their heart.

The survey outcomes noted that the lungs were the main worry for 1 in 6, over half of whom were smokers.

The survey also highlighted people's lack of awareness about the human body.

A quarter didn't know that the kidneys filter waste products out of blood, and 3% believed it helped improve a person's sex drive.

Dr Chris Rudge, Medical Director of UK Transplant, responsible for matching and allocating donated organs for transplant, and for maintaining the NHS Organ Donor Register commented, "We are glad the BBC has chosen to draw attention to this very important issue.”

"We hope that it will help raise awareness of the benefits of transplantation and encourage people to make an informed decision about joining the NHS Organ Donor Register.”

"The BBC survey confirms the widespread support that exists for organ donation in the UK and emphasises the vital need for people to talk about their own wishes with those close to them."

A British Medical Association spokeswoman said: "What is worrying is that there is clearly still a lot of misunderstanding about organ donation.”

"The survey revealed that a fifth of respondents thought that if they joined the register, doctors would not fight as hard to save their life."

"That is totally incorrect."

BBC 2005, 21 August 2005, 23:11 GMT
22 August 2005

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