'End organ transplant death row'

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THE system of organ donation should be changed to save the lives of thousands of people living on "an invisible death row", an Emmy award-winning writer said yesterday.

Frank Deasy, the writer of TV dramas including Prime Suspect and BBC's The Passion, highlighted the plight of those awaiting an organ transplant as he waits for a liver to save his life.

Mr Deasy, who lives in Glasgow with his wife, Marie, and three children, backs a system of "presumed consent" – where people could opt-out of being donors rather than having to opt-in as at present.

It is believed this would increase the number of organs from those who support donation but never get around to signing the Organ Donor Register. However, such a move has so far been resisted by UK governments.

Yesterday Mr Deasy, who has liver cancer, highlighted a particular shortage of donor livers for patients with blood group B – his blood group.

He told The Scotsman he believed presumed consent would boost the number of transplants carried out in the UK – and reduce the number of people dying on the waiting list.

"People need to remember that presumed consent includes the right to say 'no' and for people wanting to opt-out, their wishes would be respected," the 49-year-old said.

"But I think the current system isn't working anything as well as it could because at times of bereavement, relatives are finding it hard to address.

"Understandably, hospital staff sometimes find it difficult to bring up and yet the majority of people in surveys say they would like to donate. So having the balance in favour of donation would save lives."

The British Medical Association has campaigned for presumed consent.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman said:"Evidence from other countries has shown presumed consent can improve the shortage of donor organs and save lives."

A Scottish Government spokesman said it was working to help double the number of organ donors by 2013.

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