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Three-quarters of people would support law change on organ donation

A survey from the British Heart Foundation on organ donation.
A survey from the British Heart Foundation on organ donation.

More than three-quarters of people in the North East are in favour of a change in the law on organ donation, new figures reveal.

On Friday, MPs will vote on a new Bill that will introduce an opt-out system in England – where people are registered as a donor unless they state otherwise, potentially saving thousands of lives.

In a poll of more than 2,000 people the British Heart Foundation (BHF) found that, out of those in the North East who would not support a change in the law, nearly half (45 per cent) were put off by concerns that they would not be able to opt out or that it would be difficult to do so.

The charity says this highlights a lack of public awareness and confusion about the proposed new system which would allow any person opposed to donating their organs to opt out.

The BHF said the figures indicate a lack of awareness around the urgency of organ donation, with nearly half of people in the region underestimating the number of people on the organ transplant list in the UK and a quarter underestimating the number of people who died last year while on the waiting list.

The figures also revealed that 29 per cent of people are not aware of their families wishes when it comes to organ donation, with over a third (35 per cent) saying they simply hadn’t thought about having this conversation and nearly two-fifths (38 per cent) saying it was too awkward or sad to bring up.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: “There is a desperate shortage of organs in the UK and introducing an opt-out system in England will better reflect the views of the general public and give hope to those currently waiting for a transplant they so desperately need.

“We are urging everyone in the North East to encourage their local MP to attend parliament this Friday to debate a Bill that could save lives.”