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Kidney Donors

Volume 958: debated on Tuesday 21 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied that adequate attention is paid in the National Health Service to the need to secure kidneys for replacement purposes from patients who have indicated their willingness to donate their kidneys and who have subsequently died; and whether he will take steps to draw the attention of all hospital staff concerned to the importance of securing an adequate supply of replacement kidneys.

The number of kidneys transplanted has been steadily increasing and the kidney donor card scheme has played an important role in increasing the awareness of hospital staff of the urgent need for more kidneys. However, kidneys have not been taken from many potential donors due to the reluctance of hospital staff to identify such donors and to set in motion the procedures for organ removal. My Department's chief medical and nursing officers wrote to all hospital doctors and nurses informing them of the serious shortage of donor kidneys and seeking their co-operation. Furthermore, a film has been produced for transplant surgeons to use in demonstrating the value of renal transplantation and its accompanying procedures to other medical and nursing staff. Also a working party under the chairmanship of Lord Smith is producing a code of practice for the removal of organs for transplantation, which will be circulated to all staff who may be involved in these procedures. It is hoped that it will clarify some of the legal, ethical and clinical uncertainties experienced by those staff who are not routinely involved in the removal of kidneys and thus further improve the supply of these organs.