Saturday, September 10, 2016

Corneas, heart and pancreas: the organs that we are reluctant to donate

THE GUARDIAN | Pamela Duncan

While there are more people than ever on the NHS’s donor register, there are some body parts that people find it difficult to part with – even after death

In Organ Donation Week, it’s heartening to see that the number of people consenting to have their organs used after their death is at its highest-ever level. There were almost 22.5 million registrants on the donor register as of 31 March – up 6.6% on the previous year.

While the majority of those registered have given consent for all their organs and tissues to be donated, one in eight are “restricted donors” – people who have registered, but state that they don’t want to donate specific body parts.

If you are squeamish about giving up your eyes even in death, you are not alone. NHS figures show that the vast majority of those who opt out – almost 90% of those who choose not to donate, and 10.7% of the whole register – do so because they don’t want to give their corneas.

There is a shortage of cornea donors in the UK. In the year to 31 March 2015, almost 3,780 cornea transplants were recorded on the UK transplant registry. However, while the NHS would require an average of 10 donations a day to meet demand, it only receives on average seven viable donations per day.

Among the restricted donors, a much smaller proportion opted out of donating their heart, pancreas, lungs, liver or kidneys. Continue reading
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