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Kidney Complaints (West Midlands)

Volume 35: debated on Tuesday 18 January 1983

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received about the lack of treatment for sufferers of kidney complaints in the west midlands; and if he will make a statement.

I have received a total of 19 representations, of which 11 have been from hon. Members.

Is it not deplorable that purely because of the lack of resources many people in the west midlands and elsewhere will die from kidney disease this year, although there are tried and tested methods of treatment? Will the Minister consider the suggestion that I have made on a number of occasions, that a computer bank system for kidney donors would greatly increase the efficiency of the system?

I accept that one reason for the deficiencies is the unfortunate shortage of donor kidneys. A television programme two years ago did a great deal of damage by reducing the public and medical response to the demand for kidneys. We examine all possible ways to increase supplies of donors. We recently put a new kidney donor card into all provisional driving licences, and we are looking at other ways.

I replied yesterday on the hon. Member's particular point. We look at every suggestion with interest, but there are practical problems with computer donor banks that have to be resolved to make sure that they provide the best value for money in tackling the problem.

Has the Minister considered the possibility of contracting-in for donors of live organs, by computer?

This is a highly controversial and difficult problem, with people holding a wide variety of views about the position of relatives of donors, if a tragic death occurs. We are looking at several propositions and we are actively encouraging as many people as possible to carry donor cards, as this greatly facilitates the taking of kidneys after a tragedy. It has also been suggested that we introduce kidney donor co-ordinators to assist doctors in providing the necessary organs. All the ideas are looked at, but the hon. Member's proposal is controversial.