Organ donation bid to target new drivers

Media caption,
National clinical director for transplantation Chris Rudge: "Around the world similar schemes have made a significant difference"

Drivers applying for new licences from July will have to respond to a question about organ donation, as the government bids to increase donor numbers.

Under the "prompted choice" system, applicants must register to donate, say they have already signed up or state: "I do not want to answer this now."

Under the DVLA's current scheme, people can skip the question, but nearly 8m people have still signed up as donors.

It is hoped to increase numbers by making people consider a response.

If the DVLA pilot scheme is successful it could be rolled out to other areas.

Twenty-seven per cent of the UK population are registered donors, but the government says this is in stark contrast to the 65-90% surveys indicate are in favour of donating their organs.

Currently 8,000 people are waiting for a transplant and 1,000 people die each year while waiting for one.

'Ultimate gift'

Public health minister Anne Milton said: "Surveys show that a large number of people in the UK are happy to donate their organs for transplantation but haven't got round to registering.

"We hope that by prompting people into making a decision we can encourage more people to register. We also need people to think and talk about organ donation with their families so people know what family members want."

She added: "Being an organ donor is a truly selfless act and is the ultimate gift anyone could give."

Prompted choice schemes in the United States have increased donor registrations. In Illinois, for example, donor rates have risen from 38% to 60% of the population.

The DVLA scheme comes amid debate in the UK about the introduction of presumed consent, where all people are assumed to be willing to donate their organs unless they specifically choose to opt out.

Last month the doctors' union, the BMA, renewed its call for further debate on an opt-out system, while the British Heart Foundation (BHF) said it would transform the number of available organs in one fell swoop.

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