Lukewarm response to organ sales

FATHER of a young woman who died while waiting for a heart transplant has given a lukewarm reception to calls by a leading transplant surgeon for the sale of human organs in Britain to be legitimised and regulated.

FATHER of a young woman who died while waiting for a heart transplant has given a lukewarm reception to calls by a leading transplant surgeon for the sale of human organs in Britain to be legitimised and regulated.

Richard Spurgin, whose daughter, Kate Trevarthen, died last year, said the organ shortage could be solved without the moral dilemmas associated with organ sales by a change in the law.

"People should have to opt out of donating their organs on death rather than opting in by signing a donor card or informing relatives of their wishes, as the law says at present," said Mr Spurgin, who lives at Harleston.

The death of his daughter sparked an East Anglian Daily Times campaign called Sign for Life – aimed at persuading people to commit to donating organs on death.


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Mr Spurgin said 378 people had died in Britain last year while waiting for a heart transplant.

"Many of these could have been saved if the law had been changed," he said.

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Mr Spurgin added that the sale of organs could raise moral dilemmas and would not be necessary if there was a "presumption" in favour of organ donation at death, unless people had informed their families otherwise.

The call for the sale or organs to be legitimised came yesterday from Professor Nadey Haskim , president of the Royal Society of Medicine's transplant committee, as a way of reducing "transplant tourism" where patients travel abroad for operations which are illegal in this country.

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