A study states that the organ donation rate in UK is one of the lowest in Western Europe because the grieving relatives are reluctant to allow such procedures. This was primarily due to the families are blocking the wishes of potential organ donors because they are distressed and confused about what their loved-ones would have wanted, campaigners warned yesterday.
The UK Transplant, which carried out a two-year audit, said that certain families were refusing to give consent even if the deceased person was on the organ donor register or carried a donor card. An audit of all deaths in intensive care units across the UK found that 41 per cent of families denied consent for their relatives' organs to be donated.
The study, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at all deaths in 341 intensive care units in 284 hospitals across the UK. The researchers at UK Transplant, of the NHS's organ-matching organisation, said that UK has a serious shortage of organs for transplantation, as does almost every country. The study looked at the possible number of donations from deaths in 284 hospitals throughout the UK. The maximum achievable potential donor rate during the two-year study period was 23.2 donations per million populations per year.
The study found that the refusal rates for families of potential donors from ethnic minorities were 70%, twice that for white potential donors (35%), but the age and sex of the potential donor did not affect the refusal rate.
The study concluded that when the Human Tissue Act comes into force in September 2006, "the wishes and consent of the individual will be paramount". This, the study explained may be in time to address the aspect and emphasises of the benefits of increased registrations on the NHS organ donor register.