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Bishop issues warning over presumed consent for organ donations

Introducing presumed consent for organ donations undermines the concept of donating as a gift, a Catholic bishop has warned.

Bishop Paul Mason, the Catholic bishop responsible for healthcare, also suggested that implementing such a policy would lead to a slippery slope in terms of how the state rules its citizens.

His comments come in response to the Government’s launching of an open consultation on the matter, titled, Introducing ‘opt-out’ consent for organ and tissue donation in England.

At the moment, the default position is for organs not to be donated unless the patient opts in.

In any case, medics must seek approval from the dead person’s family before pressing ahead with an organ transfer.

However, the consultation paves the way for all citizens to automatically become organ donors unless they opt-out.

And, while Bishop Mason encourages people to think about becoming organ donors, he warned that an opt-out system would not be the correct way to do so.

“Voluntary organ donation is an intrinsic good and something I’d encourage all people to consider,” said Bishop Mason.

“The Government’s plans to introduce ‘opt-out’ consent for organ and tissue donation in England undermine the concept of donation as a gift, and cross the line of what is a reasonable action for the state to take in relation to the individuals within it,” he added.

Bishop Mason also pointed out that the ‘opt-out’ system wouldn’t necessarily see a rise in organ donations.

“The structure of ‘opt-out’ consent doesn’t necessarily succeed,” he said. “This system was introduced in Wales in December 2015. Since then there has in fact been a slight decrease in organ transplants in Wales, compared with an increase in England over the same period.”

As previously reported in The Universe, the Welsh Government’s two-year evaluation of presumed consent, published at the end of November 2017, states that ‘among Welsh resident donors, the respective quarterly mean averages are 14.6 for the period before the change in the law and 13.4 for the time since then’.

The consultation closes on 6th March 2018. To find out more or take part visit:

Picture: A styrofoam container for the transport of donated organs is pictured at a hospital. (Soeren Stache/DPA).