Board of Deputies urges caution on organ donation change

Theresa May signals government's wish to move to a system of 'presumed consent'


The Board of Deputies has urged the Prime Minister to think twice about changing the law on organ donation.

In her speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester today, Theresa May indicated plans to switch from the current “opt-in” system, where patients give consent for the use of their organs, to “opt-out”, where the organs are presumed to be available for transplant unless objections have been recorded.

An opt-out system was introduced into Wales two years ago and the Scottish Government said it was planning to follow suit this year.

Mrs May said with 500 people dying last year because of the lack of an organ for transplant, the government was looking at "shifting the balance of presumption in favour of organ donation”.

But the Board of Deputies would prefer an opt-in system to remain.

Marie van der Zyl, joint vice-president of the Board, said, “While, in principle, Judaism encourages organ donation in order to save lives, any changes must ensure that there is no risk of a person having their organs taken against their and their families’ wishes.

“This could obviously cause very grave distress to families of the deceased at a sensitive time. The removal of organs raises religious issues, centring on the point at which death is presumed to occur. The government will need to consult carefully in order to protect freedom of religious practice.”

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