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Health: Organ Transplants

Volume 708: debated on Wednesday 11 March 2009


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health (Alan Johnson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Organ donation is one of medicine’s great success stories, transforming thousands of people’s lives each year. However, around 8,000 people in the United Kingdom are currently waiting for an organ transplant and each year approximately 1,000 people die or are taken off the national list before a suitable organ becomes available. We want to enable as many UK nationals as possible to have a life-saving or life-enhancing organ transplant. That is why we accepted the Organ Donation Taskforce recommendations last year and why we are investing significantly in the donation infrastructure.

We are aware that some people resident in other countries within the European Union needing transplants are being referred to the UK. This had led to accusations of priority being given to non-UK patients. We want to optimise the availability of organs for transplant for NHS patients and ensure public confidence in the fairness and transparency of the organ allocation system in the UK. We have therefore asked Elisabeth Buggins, the chair of the former Organ Donation Taskforce, to examine policy and practice within the framework of European law on the use of organs from UK deceased donors in respect of the referral, acceptance and transplantation of non-UK EU residents, including the different funding arrangements, and to report her findings to the department by June 2009.