Jeremy Corbyn vows to create ‘opt-out’ organ donation register

Jeremy Corbyn at the Labour conference
Jeremy Corbyn at the Labour conference

Labour would introduce an opt-out system for organ donation if it got into government, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

The change in the system comes after six people from Hartlepool have died in the last decade while waiting for organ transplants and 13 more are waiting for a life- changing operation.

About 400 Britons die every year while waiting for transplants.

Mr Corbyn told the party’s conference: “There are more than 5,000 people on organ transplant waiting lists, but a shortage of donors means that in recent years only 3,500 of them get the life-saving treatments they need.

“So that everybody whose life could be saved by an organ transplant can have the gift of life, from one human being to another.”

The law has already been changed in Wales under Carwyn Jones’s leadership, Mr Corbyn said, adding: “Today I make the commitment, a Labour government will do the same for England.”

The change would see presumed consent for organ donations, whereby organs become available for transplants unless people decide not to take part.

Earlier this month transplant chiefs urged people to get involved in organ donation – and let their families know their post death wishes.

NHS Blood and Transplant revealed the tragic numbers to mark Organ Donation Week at the start of this month.

Officials say a reluctance to talk about the issue is contributing to a deadly shortage of organs.

Anthony Clarkson, assistant director of organ donation and transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “It’s a tragedy that people are dying unnecessarily every year in Hartlepool waiting for transplants.

“If you want to save lives, don’t leave it too late to talk to your family.”

Last year, eight Hartlepool transplant patients had life-saving or life-improving transplants thanks to the NHS Organ Donor Register.

There has been a steady increase in the number of people joining the register in just the last five years to reach 34,162.

But the service says hundreds of life-saving transplants are still being missed every year because families are not aware of the wishes of their relatives.

Surveys by NHS Blood and Transplant show that more than 80% of people support organ donation but only around 49% of people have ever talked about it.

Research shows that women are 30% more likely to start a conversation about organ donation than men.