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Organ transplants

The British government has announced they are considering using an ‘opt out’ system for organ transplantation. This means that unless one gives specific instructions they do not want their organs to be used for transplantation, it will be assumed that any suitable organs can be used for transplantation, provided, of course, that the person has been pronounced dead by a physician. This system is already in use in Wales, Croatia, Spain and France.

Spain has been the world leader in organ donation for the last 25 years and, in 2016, it broke its own record for the number of transplants carried out. A total of 4,818 organ transplants were done in Spain that year, beating the record of 4,769 the year before, according to data published by the National Transplant Organisation. These included 2,994 kidney transplants, 1,159 liver, 281 heart, 307 lung, 73 pancreas and four intestines.

While some nations cap the age at which donors qualify, Spain considers organ donation by those over the age of 65 and, in fact, 10 per cent of organ donors there are over 80. Most importantly, Spain operates the ‘opt-out’ system. Why does Malta not operate an ‘opt out’ system? Surely it would be beneficial as waiting time for suitable organs will be reduced and will also become less costly because in the long term transplanted patients are less expensive to maintain than patients of either Haemo dialysis or CAPD.

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