Should our organ donor system be opt out instead of opt in?

Are you an organ donor?
Are you an organ donor?

MPs have started their debate on a Bill that would change the law on organ donation in England to ensure people have to opt out of being donors.

The Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill from Labour's Geoffrey Robinson seeks to introduce presumed consent in England, following moves to opt-out systems in Wales and Scotland. The Government has indicated it will support the Bill, with Theresa May having pledged to introduce presumed consent for organ donation in England at last year's Conservative Party conference.

A number of MPs said on Twitter that they would be giving the Bill their support.

Education minister Nadhim Zahawi said: "Very happy to be supporting Geoffrey Robinson's organ donation bill today. Really good cross party support."

Shadow health minister Sharon Hodgson said: "I'm in the Chamber of @Geoffrey4CovNW Private Members Bill on Organ Donation. We need more people on Organ Donation Register so that everyone whose life could be saved by organ transplant can have the gift of life."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn offered his support for the Bill in the Commons, telling MPs it would save lives.

Mr Corbyn said: "It's wonderful he's got this this Bill introduced and I hope today the House can pass it and thus save an awful lot of people's lives in the future."

Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson, proposing his Bill, said a "certain inertia" had set in over the last four years with organ donation slowing.

He said: "If we take England, the situation is disappointing. We have some of the lowest rates of consent for organ donation in western Europe, low family rates of consent being one of the major barriers.

"So, in effect, preventing one third of available organs from being used."

He added: "None of us likes to think about the worst happening and it's challenging to have certain conversations with families and loved ones about one's wishes after death, one of the principle aims of the Bill must be to encourage these open discussions among families."

Mr Robinson said his Bill would not "make an immediate difference tomorrow" but hoped in the coming years it would increase the availability of organs.

He added: "Over the last few years the steady increase in donations and transplantations has slowed and in the last four years, to be more precise, it has in effect in England plateaued. So, against this background there has been a grave concern that a certain inertia is setting in."