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Organ Donation: Europe vs USA

Many European countries have “presumed donor policies” where (unless otherwise stipulated) the untimely demise of one of its citizens results in potential organs for those on organ transplant waiting lists.  In other words, the default assumption is that you want to be an organ donor should you die in an accident.

Britain is now undergoing internal debate over whether or not to institute a presumed donor policy. On the “no” side is Scotland and the Conservatives – suggesting that the government has no right to an individual’s remains.  On the “yes” side are the Liberals and the British Medical Association – reminding the “no’s” that people are free to opt out, and that studies show that 70% of people have not formally registered to donate their organs even though they state that their wish would be to donate their organs in the event of sudden death.

Spain has been very successful with their presumed donor policy – doubling organ donations after enacting it into law.  Austria quadrupled their organ donations after following suit.

I think that Europe’s presumed donor policy is a good idea and I would personally endorse a similar policy in the US, so long as next of kin had veto power.  What do you think?This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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